White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki declined to say Wednesday whether President Joe Biden wanted the Senate to hold a trial to determine if President Donald Trump should be barred from federal office, following his impeachment last week.
She also gave no indication that President Biden would urge Congress not to hold a trial, for the sake of national unity.
Psaki answered reporters’ questions during her first White House briefing. Peter Doocy of Fox News asked her: “So, if President Biden wants a theme of his presidency to be unifying the country, does he think that Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer should drop a potentially divisive Senate impeachment trial?”
Psaki said that the Senate could “multitask” and “do their constitutional duty,” adding that Biden would “leave the mechanics, the timing, and the specifics of how Congress moves forward on impeachment to them.”
Later, she was asked by Zeke Miller of the Associated Press whether the newly-inaugurated president believed “that President Trump needs to be held accountable for the Capitol insurrection,” and if so, whether Biden believed Trump should be barred from public office as the result of a conviction in the Senate.
Well, um, Zeke, you know, he has spoken very firmly and fiercely, publicly, about his views of the horrific events, on the horrific events on January 6th. And he has also, of course, spoken with members of Congress about that, as you all know. But he’s going to leave it to members of Congress to carry out their constitutional duty and determine what the path forward is, and what the mechanisms are going to be, what the process will be, and what the timeline will be. And certainly he ran against Donald Trump becauase he did not think he was fit to serve in office, long before the events of January 6th. He is here today because he decided to run against him, but we’re focusing on moving forward, we’re focusing on addressing the issues facing the American public, and as you know, that means we’re focused on our COVID package.
Biden had called for “unity” in his Inaugural Address just hours before: “[W]ithout unity, there is no peace, only bitterness and fury.”
Pelosi has not yet delivered the article of impeachment to the Senate; Schumer, who assumed the role of Majority Leader on Wednesday, has said there will be an impeachment trial, even though Trump has left office.
Experts disagree whether it is constitutional to try a former president.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His newest e-book is How Not to Be a Sh!thole Country: Lessons from South Africa. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.