In suggesting civil rights leaders choose their words carefully when debating criminal justice changes with Republicans, President-elect Joe Biden had an example of the risk. "That's how they beat the living hell out of us across the country, saying that we're talking about defunding the police," Biden said, referring to Democratic losses in downballot elections Nov. 3. "We're not. We're talking about holding them accountable." The president-elect made the comments in an online meeting Tuesday, NBC reports. Audio clips of the meeting were posted on the Intercept; Biden's team did not argue the accuracy of the recording. Pressed by the leaders, Biden told them he'd keep his promise to take on systemic racism. However, he cautioned not to get "too far ahead of ourselves." Biden assured the group: "We can go very far. It matters how we do it."
The discussion about "how" included the possibility of using executive orders as soon as he takes office, per the Hill. One step, the civil rights leaders suggested, would be creating a national database of police misconduct. Another is reversing actions taken by President Trump. "I am not going to violate the Constitution," Biden said. "Where I have executive authority, I will use it to undo every single damn thing this guy's done by executive authority." Biden's team later issued a statement about the meeting, saying: "President-elect Biden is the same person behind closed doors that he is public; honest, direct and realistic about the challenges facing our nation the day he is sworn in. As he made clear throughout the campaign, he believes in supporting bold and urgent reform to our criminal justice system while continuing to support law enforcement's mission to keep our communities safe." (Barack Obama had made a similar argument.)