Biden determined to say as little as possible about Trump’s indictment

WASHINGTON (AP) — The leader of the free world is rarely silenced, but President Joe Biden is clearly determined to say as little as possible about the federal indictment of his predecessor Donald Trump.

His White House is dodging questions about it. His campaign does not respond to them. And Biden himself wants nothing to do with it. “I have no comment on what happened,” he told reporters on Friday while in Rocky Mount, North Carolina.

The reluctance reflects the precarious and unprecedented situation in which Biden finds himself: Just as Trump is the first former president to be indicted by the federal government, Biden is the first incumbent to have his main political rival indicted by his own administration.

Although hardly unanticipated, Trump’s indictment has brought a fresh round of reminders to Biden’s world that the president doesn’t want to be dragged into drama with comments of any kind. He is wary of providing fodder for efforts by Trump and his allies to portray the Justice Department as engaged in a politically motivated prosecution.

Eric Dezenhall, a longtime crisis communications consultant, said Biden’s cautious path was cautious.

“There are certain positions you take not because they’re persuasive but because they do the least damage,” he said. “Any syllable uttered by Biden or the White House team will be used in court and politically to validate the witch-hunt narrative.”

Biden, who has made restoring the Justice Department’s independence a central campaign promise in 2020, now aims to reinforce that principle both politically and politically.

“I never – not once – suggested to the Justice Department what it should or shouldn’t do, in terms of whether or not to press charges,” Biden said Thursday. “I’m honest.”

Later that evening, the White House said, the president learned of the 37 felony counts filed against Trump by a Miami grand jury through media coverage of Trump’s announcement that he had been summoned. to go on Tuesday.

Asked on Friday whether he had spoken to Attorney General Merrick Garland about the case, Biden replied curtly.

“I haven’t spoken to him at all,” he told reporters at Rocky Mount. “I’m not going to talk to him.”

To further complicate matters for Biden, he faces his own special counsel investigating classified documents discovered at his home and former office. The circumstances were markedly different: Unlike Trump, Biden voluntarily returned the documents to the federal government. Meanwhile, the president’s son, Hunter, faces an ongoing Justice Department investigation into his finances and the purchase of a gun while under the influence of illegal substances.

Republicans defending Trump have previously sought to accuse Biden of leading the prosecution or alleging a double standard in the way the Justice Department handles cases.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy called Trump’s indictment a “gross injustice” and promised House Republicans “will hold accountable this brazen weaponization of power.”

The White House pushes back against the idea of ​​any political interference in the prosecutions.

“Listen, this is a president who respects the rule of law and has been saying that since day one,” White House senior deputy press secretary Olivia Dalton said on Friday. “That is precisely why we do not comment here. He believes in respecting the independence of the DOJ and protecting the integrity of its processes.

Privately, Biden aides express some joy at Trump’s predicament — and some wish they were free to continue highlighting Trump’s alleged crimes and Republicans’ rush to defend him to the masses. There’s also frustration that Trump is stealing the national spotlight again and a desire to make sure Biden doesn’t get sucked into the maelstrom.

Biden allies have been quietly told to keep a low profile on the issue and make sure they don’t inadvertently say something that drags the president into controversy.

Dezenhall compared the situation to when then-President Richard Nixon commented on Charles Manson’s trial and raised concerns that it would prevent him from getting a fair trial.

“Imagine what would happen if we thought that a guy who already has 40% support in the country suffered a similar fate,” he added of Trump. “The White Houses are very committed to this sort of thing.”

Says Dezenhall: “As devastating as this lawsuit seems to Trump right now, we’ve been hearing ‘They’ve got it now’ since 2015. I’m not so sure, and you can bet the smartest Dems aren’t so sure. neither .”

Leave a Comment