The investigation of the January 6 insurrection by the House select committee is moving ahead into a new phase next week. They will start their public hearings, so all eyes will be focused on what has been and will be revealed.
Some of the attention will be on how the Biden administration is reacting to what the House select committee is uncovering. There’s no doubt that the White House staff will be glued to their screens as they eat up what is being served, but experts are indicating that we should not expect much of a public response from President Biden and those close to him.
So far, the administration has been very careful to keep its distance from the work of the House committee. Their comments have been few and far between regarding the timeline of events and how much former President Trump knew about the plot to overturn the 2020 elections. No one is expecting things to change as the investigation moves into public hearings.
When the hearing begins on June 9, you won’t hear much of a peep from the White House briefing room. One official on Biden’s team said that the plan was for the president to only respond when appropriate. That likely means he will only interject the importance of protecting the democracy and keeping those who attempt to undermine it accountable.
Some believe that Biden is concerned about driving home a political message amid a bipartisan investigation. He also may be concerned about complicating future actions by law enforcement that could come from the investigation, according to a person familiar with the way the White House is thinking.
No one at the White House wants it to look like they are influencing the House committee or the Department of Justice. They don’t want to add any fuel to the Trump supporters’ fire as they try to trivialize the process.
President Biden is familiar with using Trump as a contrast to his leadership. He continues to employ this procedure as the midterm elections are approaching. But Biden’s team does not want to see him giving a play-by-play commentary on the hearing’s developments.
Jim Clyburn, a Democrat from South Carolina and the House Minority Whip, said, “For the president to inject himself into it would unnecessarily politicize the issue. It’s better for him to keep distance between himself and those hearings.”
Another concern for the Biden team would be any appearance that the White House is putting pressure on Attorney General Merrick Garland.
John Podesta, the former White House chief of staff under former President Bill Clinton, said, “Biden’s instincts will be to — as the campaign begins for November — help unpack the story for the American people, but in a way that doesn’t indicate that they are trying to influence the law enforcement decisions that Garland and his team need to make.”
Some on the president’s team could be getting ready to react if they think that Republicans in Congress go too far in being dismissive about the hearings. That could mean that Biden would need to become more vocal, which Biden has done before. He has condemned the attack at the Capitol with intensity in the past.
On the anniversary of the insurrection this past January, Biden said, “I will stand in this breach. I will defend this nation. I will allow no one to place a dagger at the throat of democracy.”
The president can get heated on this topic, but most expect a much more cautious approach to the public hearings. One administration official indicated that there are no political polls out there yet that can instruct Biden on the best posture to take.
So Biden’s intensity will likely remain behind closed doors.