President Biden said on Thursday that he was not told in advance about the F.B.I.’s execution of search warrants at Rudolph W. Giuliani’s office and home, citing his pledge not to meddle in law enforcement matters.
“I give you my word, I was not,” told of the search, Mr. Biden said in a taped interview with NBC at the White House early Thursday, before heading to Georgia.
“I made a pledge,” Mr. Biden said in the interview, which will air Friday morning on the “The Today Show.” “I would not interfere in any way — order or try to stop any investigation the Justice Department had in their way. I learned about that last night when the rest of the world learned about it.”
During his presidential campaign, Mr. Biden vowed to restore the independence of the Justice Department after years of Trump administration policies that led to allegations of political interference and retaliation.
Federal investigators on Wednesday seized cellphones and computers from Mr. Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City who became President Donald J. Trump’s personal lawyer, stepping up a criminal investigation into Mr. Giuliani’s dealings in Ukraine.
“That’s not the role of the president to say who should be prosecuted, when they should be prosecuted, who should not be prosecuted,” Mr. Biden said. “That’s not the role of the president. The Justice Department is the people’s lawyer, not the president’s lawyer.”
Asked if he’s been briefed about any other investigations, Mr. Biden said, “No, and I’m not asking to be briefed.” He added that Mr. Trump “politicized the Justice Department so badly, so many of them quit, so many left.”
The president’s remarks came as his predecessor, Mr. Trump, told Fox Business that the search was “like, so unfair” and called Mr. Giuliani “a great patriot.”
“I don’t know what they’re looking for, what they’re doing,” Mr. Trump told Maria Bartiromo on Thursday. “They say it had to do with filings of various papers, lobbying filings.”
In December 2019, Mr. Trump was impeached, in part, for attempting to pressure Ukraine ahead of the U.S. election to investigate Hunter Biden, the son of his political rival, by threatening to withhold aid to the country.