Here's What Biden Has To Say About A Trump Investigation

There has been plenty of talk to what might happen on the legal front on Jan. 21, 2021 after President Trump becomes a former president. Perhaps the most significant change is that he loses legal immunity, and that he can once again be sued or face criminal charges.

In spite of the fact that Trump faces numerous lawsuits, President-elect Joe Biden told NBC that he will not use the Department of Justice to start a witch hunt against his predecessor — mainly because he has bigger fish to fry. He explained, "I will not do what this president does and use the Justice Department as my vehicle to insist that something happen. There are a number of investigations that I've read about that are at a state level. There is nothing at all that I can or cannot do about that, but I'm focused on getting the American public back in a place where they have some certainty, some surety, some knowledge that they can make it."

Donald Trump will face a number of lawsuits when he steps down

This is not to say that the Biden administration won't face pressure from people in his party to investigate his predecessor. Some of the lawsuits involve the Trump Organization — like the Manhattan district attorney's investigation to determine whether Trump and his company might have engaged in bank fraud, insurance fraud, criminal tax fraud, and falsification of business records (via CNN). There are questions from the New York state attorney general to find out how Trump valued his assets, since Trump has claimed he inflated his total assets when he needed to, and deflated his assets when he wanted to slash his real estate taxes. 

There are also cases alleging that his hotel properties benefitted from foreign governments patronizing Trump's hotel in Washington. And then there are cases involving defamation, sexual harassment, as well as a fraud case filed by Trump's niece Mary, who says the president and his siblings kept them from getting her fair share of her father's estate. In reporting citizen Trump's legal challenges, CNN says there could even be others involving the Mueller investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 elections. Time also mentions dozens of civil lawsuits arising from the 2019 impeachment.

There is historical precedent for Biden to pardon Trump if he chooses

Even if President-elect Biden holds firm to his decision to let the Justice Department take the lead, Jack Goldsmith, a Harvard legal scholar who was former President George W Bush's Assistant Attorney General says the question of whether or not to prosecute will be a difficult one for the Biden administration to handle. "He will be under enormous pressure from elements in his party to investigate Trump," Goldsmith tells Time

There is another side to Biden's promise not to send the Justice Department after Trump. When he was on the campaign trail, Biden has also said that we shouldn't expect him to pardon his predecessor either. There is historical precedent for a pardon, since former President Gerald Ford pardoned his predecessor Richard Nixon back in the 1970s. Back then, Ford had said that a criminal trial would only further polarize the country. But whether this is an option Biden will eventually entertain is the real question. With a pandemic raging everywhere, it makes the likelihood of a pardon something that won't be viewed as the top priority as of right now.