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“I’m not looking for any retribution," the new president tells PEOPLE

By Sandra Sobieraj Westfall and Sean Neumann
February 05, 2021 04:50 PM
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President Joe Biden says his predecessor Donald Trump's unprecedented second impeachment trial, set to start next week, is "important" to carry out in the Senate — but his main focus is elsewhere.

"I'm no longer in the Senate, obviously, and I don't know what is likely to happen," Biden, 78, tells PEOPLE in this week's cover story. "It's probably not likely to get 17 Republicans to change their view and convict on impeachment. But I think it's important that there be certain basic standards and people least are able to see what happened and make their own judgements."

Trump, 74, will stand trial in the Senate, where lawmakers will decide whether to convict or acquit the former president of "incitement of insurrection."

He was charged in the House of Representatives last month over what impeachment managers say was his "singular responsibility" for inciting the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol building during a joint session of Congress

Trump is not widely expected to be convicted, which would require at least 17 Republicans to join their Democratic colleagues — though 45 of those same GOP lawmakers already tried to stop a trial by voting that it was unconstitutional.

Trump's fate isn't up to Biden, the current president makes clear to PEOPLE.

• For more from Joe and Jill Biden's first White House interview, subscribe now to PEOPLE or pick up this week's issue, on newsstands now.

Joe Biden
President Joe Biden
| Credit: Mark Makela/Getty
President Trump Campaigns For Republican Senate Candidates Loeffler And Perdue
Former President Donald Trump
| Credit: Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg via Getty

Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden sat down for their first White House interview since he took office last month, discussing their grandchildren, the contentious 2020 election cycle and more.

"I'm not looking for any retribution," President Biden says about Trump. "My job is to try to heal the country and move us forward, because I think we have so many opportunities as a country. I really do."

Biden and his administration have made a thematic point of focusing on national unity, though he and other Democrats have also made clear they will govern with their slim majorities where necessary (over Republican objection).

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki went as far to say this week: "This may be hard to believe, [but] we don't spend a lot of time talking about or thinking about President Trump here — former President Trump, to be very clear."

joe and jill biden
Jill and Joe Biden on the February 15 cover of People
| Credit: Celeste Sloman
Joe Biden, Donald Trump
Joe Biden (left) and Donald Trump
| Credit: Alex Wong/Getty; SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty

• Watch the full episode of People Cover Story: President Biden and Dr. Biden streaming now on PeopleTV.com, or download the PeopleTV app on your favorite device.

But Biden is still on Trump's mind: The former president's defense lawyers for his trial repeated his baseless claims of election fraud in their initial impeachment response filing this week.

As for Biden? He says: "I don't hold grudges."