WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden has blamed the Trump administration for lingering problems on the US-Mexico border, citing its inability to cooperate and share critical information during the presidential transition period.
In an exclusive interview aired Friday with TODAY co-host Craig Melvin, Biden said his administration inherited a “appalling border mess” from former President Donald Trump. He said it was the result of “the failure of a real transition – the cooperation of the last administration, as all other administrations have done.”
After the November election, Biden said he sent his transition team to meet with officials from key government departments.
“The two departments that gave us access to next to nothing were Immigration and the Department of Defense,” said Biden, who added that his team did not know until he was sworn in that Trump had expelled a lot of people. of these departments. and they were severely understaffed.
Biden declined to call the border situation a crisis. He also admitted that his administration had struggled to reunite children and families who had been separated under Trump’s policies.
“We don’t yet know where these children are,” he said. “We’re trying like hell to figure out what happened. What happened to this child when he separated? Where did they go? Where are they?”
During the high-profile interview, conducted Thursday at the White House, Biden was also asked about comments about race from Sen. Tim Scott, RS.C., in the Republicans’ official response to his first address in Congress. Wednesday. Scott, the only black Republican senator, said he had suffered “the pain of discrimination” but urged viewers to “Hear me clearly: America is not a racist country.”
Biden was asked if he disagreed.
“No, I don’t think the American people are racist. But I think after 400 years African Americans have found themselves in a position where they are so far behind eighth in terms of education, health, in terms of opportunities. ”Biden said.“ I don’t think America is racist, but I think all Jim Crow’s overhang and before this slavery came at a cost and we have to face it. “
Melvin also asked Biden if he had been made aware of the search warrants executed in Rudy Giuliani’s apartment and office and found out when the news broke.
“I give you my word, I wasn’t,” Biden said.
“I made a promise,” Biden continued. “I would not interfere in any way – order or try to stop any investigation the Department of Justice had underway. I learned this last night when the rest of the world found out. “
When asked if he had been informed of another investigation, Biden replied, “No, and I am not asking to be informed – this is the independent judgment of the Department of Justice.”
Biden said the Trump administration “politicized the Justice Department so badly, so many of them resigned, so many left.”
“It is not the president’s role to say who should be prosecuted, when he should be prosecuted, who should not be prosecuted. It is not the role of the president. The Department of Justice is the people’s advocate, not the president’s advocate.
Biden’s remarks came a day after FBI agents executed search warrants at Giuliani’s Manhattan apartment and office to seize electronic devices. The searches indicated prosecutors were continuing their investigation into Giuliani, the former New York mayor who became Trump’s personal lawyer.
Biden and First Lady Jill Biden, who joined the conversation towards the end, were also asked about one of their German Shepherds, Major, who had a few incidents at the White House.
“He’s such a sweet and adorable dog. He really is, ”said the first lady.
The first lady also shared that they were adopting a cat and said part of Major’s training with the Secret Service involved putting him in a shelter with cats.