During a CNN town hall in Las Vegas, Nevada, former vice president Joe Biden denounced President Trump’s use of pardon power.
QUESTION: Well, thank you for taking my question. President Trump’s Department of Justice recently got involved in the trial of Roger Stone, a close confidante of Trump’s. This led to four of the federal prosecutors to either withdraw or resign from the department all together.
Many see this as a further abuse of presidential power that challenges our very ideas of what the justice system should be. As president, how will you restore the barriers between the Department of Justice and the Oval Office?
FMR. VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: First of all, for years and years I was chairman of the Judiciary Committee. I have never, never, never, including when I got elected as a kid at 29 years old when Nixon was president, this is not an exaggeration, no one, no one has ever abused that office or weaponized it.
He has weaponized it, flat out weaponized it. And he has made it real clear. Whatever you do, it’s almost like the biblical phrase, whatever you do in my name to help me, you will get pardoned. That’s the message being sent. And the idea that Roger Stone and/or — well, I won’t go into all of them.
Roger Stone, who was convicted of lying to federal prosecutors, and a judge said, whoa, whoa, whoa, I’m not going to listen to whatever the Justice Department has to say now, I’m sentencing this guy and I’m sentencing him to 40 months, 40 months. Guarantee you, he is going to be pardoned. Guarantee. Guarantee.
What’s that message about? Don’t worry. Do anything illegal for me and you’re OK, I will pardon you. No one has weaponized it before ever like this. Number one.
The Justice Department is not the president’s private lawyer. It’s the people’s lawyer.
BIDEN: And I will never, I will never direct the Justice Department as to who they should or should not indict and under what circumstance they should or should not. That is an independent judgment to be made.
My son, the one who — my deceased son was the attorney general of the United States (sic) and before that he was a federal prosecutor in one of the largest offices in the country in Philadelphia. And I tell you what, he wouldn’t even talk to me about anything he was doing, his father. And he shouldn’t have. And i I didn’t have any control over either one of those things.
But my generic point is you should stay out of it. Let the Justice Department do its job, period.