The White House has refrained from taking a stance on the historic impeachment trial of former president Donald Trump, and the administration remained committed to avoiding the topic even as the trial began Tuesday.
In a briefing Tuesday afternoon, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki broached the topic because of questions from reporters, but she declined to address what President Biden thought about the trial or its constitutionality, the focus of the first day of proceedings.
“This is obviously a big story in the country,” Psaki said, repeating a line from previous briefings where she declined to comment on topic of impeachment.
“But our focus and the President's focus is on putting people back to work, getting the pandemic under control,” she added. “And that means we're not going to weigh in on every question about the impeachment trial, and we don't feel it's necessary or our role to do that.”
Psaki said the president remains focused on “addressing the needs of the American people” and ironing out the details of the COVID-19 relief bill.
President Biden met with business leaders and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen in the Oval Office Tuesday afternoon to discuss the recovery package, where he said he would not watch the impeachment trial.
"I am not," the president said, responding to questions from reporters. "I've told you before, I have a job. My job is to keep people. We've already lost over 450,000 people, and we're going to lose a whole lot more if we don't act decisively and quickly."
“The Senate has their job and they are about to begin it, and I am sure they are going to conduct themselves well,” Biden said of the trial. “That’s all I am going to say about impeachment.”
When the House voted to impeach President Trump in January, Biden put out a statement at the time that blamed the president for the violent attack on the Capitol.
"This criminal attack was planned and coordinated. It was carried out by political extremists and domestic terrorists, who were incited to this violence by President Trump,” Biden’s Jan. 13 statement read.
"Today, the members of the House of Representatives exercised the power granted to them under our Constitution and voted to impeach and hold the president accountable.”
As the first day of the impeachment trial began Tuesday, Democratic impeachment managers showed a harrowing video montage of the events of Jan. 6 and the insurrection at the Capitol. The trial is expected to last until next week, but it looks to be quicker than past impeachment trials.