President Joe Biden is plainly resolved to say as little as possible about his predecessor Donald Trump’s federal indictment, which is unusual for the leader of the free world.
The White House of Biden avoids talking about the issue. They receive no response from his campaign. And Biden himself isn’t interested in getting involved. In Rocky Mount, North Carolina, on Friday, he told reporters, “I have no opinion on what transpired.
The reserve is a reflection of the precarious and unique circumstances in which Biden finds himself: Biden is the first sitting president to have his main political challenger indicted by his own administration, just as Trump is the first former president to be charged by the federal government.
Though scarcely unexpected, Trump’s indictment served as a new reminder to everyone in the Biden universe that the president does not wish to enter the drama with any form of criticism. He’s leery of giving Trump and his allies more material to claim that the Justice Department is pursuing cases with political motivation.
Eric Dezenhall, a longtime crisis communications consultant, said Biden’s cautious path was prudent.
“There are certain positions you take not because they are persuasive but because they do the least damage,” he said. “Any syllable Biden or the White House team utters will be used in court and politically to validate the witch hunt narrative.”
In order to uphold this concept on a political and policy level, Biden, who declared restoring the Justice Department’s independence a key campaign promise in 2020, is currently running for president.
“I have never once — not one single time — suggested to the Justice Department what they should do or not do, relative to bringing a charge or not bringing a charge,” Biden said Thursday. “I’m honest.”
The president learned of the 37 felony charges brought against Trump by a Miami grand jury later that evening, according to the White House, while watching TV coverage of Trump’s declaration that he would be required to appear in court on Tuesday.
When asked on Friday if he had discussed the situation with Attorney General Merrick Garland, Biden curtly answered.
“I have not spoken to him at all,” he told reporters. “I’m not going to speak to him.”
The fact that Biden is the subject of a separate special counsel investigation investigating secret documents found at his residence and old workplace only makes it worse for him. The situation was noticeably different: Biden, in contrast to Trump, voluntarily gave the government the materials.
Hunter, the president’s son, is currently the subject of a Justice Department investigation investigating his finances and the acquisition of a firearm while under the influence of drugs.
Republicans supporting Trump have already sought to implicate Biden in overseeing the prosecution and are claiming that the Justice Department uses a different standard for bringing prosecutions.
The indictment of Donald Trump is a “grave injustice,” according to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who also promised that House Republicans would “hold this brazen weaponization of power accountable.”
Nearly half of Americans believe there is political bias in the case.
In a weekend ABC News/Ipsos poll, 47% of adults said they thought the allegations in the documents case were politically motivated, compared to 37% who did not. Americans are also more inclined than not to agree that Trump should be charged, 48% to 35%. The majority of Republicans say he shouldn’t be charged, and 80% of them think the accusations are made for political reasons.
The concept of any political interference in the prosecution is being rebuffed by the White House. When questioned many times on Monday, aides doggedly maintained their refusal to speak on the case.
“What I can say — and you’ve heard us say this over and over again — this is a president that respects the rule of law. This is a president that wants to make sure … that the Department of Justice is truly independent,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Monday. “He said that during the campaign he’s restoring certainly the integrity of the Department of Justice. That is something that is important to this president.”
In private, Biden’s allies admit to feeling some delight at Trump’s dilemma, and some wish they could go all out to expose Trump’s alleged misdeeds and the Republicans’ hasty defense of him. Additionally, there is anger that Trump will once more capture the national spotlight and concern that Biden won’t avoid the storm.
First lady Jill Biden spoke at a fundraiser on Monday night in New York, going where her husband has not and slamming Republicans for supporting Trump despite the indictment.
“My heart feels so broken by a lot of the headlines that we see on the news,” she told donors. “Like I just saw, when I was on my plane, it said 61% of Republicans are going to vote, they would vote for Trump.”
“They don’t care about the indictment. So that’s a little shocking, I think,” she added.
Allies of Biden have been subtly instructed to maintain a low profile on the subject and to watch out should they unintentionally say something that involves the president in the controversy.
Dezenhall likened the predicament to the time when then-President Richard Nixon made a remark about the Charles Manson prosecution, raising worries that it might impede the defendant from receiving a fair trial.
“Imagine what would happen if a guy who already has the support of 40% of the country was thought to be suffering a similar fate,” the communications consultant added of Trump. “White Houses are very keen to this kind of thing.”
Said Dezenhall: “As devastating as this prosecution appears to Trump at the moment, we’ve been hearing ‘They got him now’ since 2015. I’m not so sure, and you can bet the smarter Dems aren’t so sure either.“