Biden has largely stayed out of the Trump trial, but that appears to be a thing of the past

The absence of a verdict, thus far, has complicated the matter for the Biden campaign and some analysts have contended that attempting to play up a prospective conviction could backfire in the event of a different outcome.

Published: May 29, 2024 11:00pm

The Biden campaign has, throughout much of former President Donald Trump’s criminal trial, largely refrained from addressing or politicizing the matter. But in recent days, the campaign appears to have taken a different approach, with leaked reports and impromptu campaign events outside of the courthouse.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg charged Trump with 34 counts of falsifying business records in connection with a 2016 payment his then-attorney, Michael Cohen, made to Stormy Daniels, for the ultimate purpose of illegally influencing the 2016 presidential election. Trump has pleaded not guilty and contends that the case is part of a broader political witch hunt designed to derail his 2024 bid for the White House. The trial has proceeded to jury deliberations.

The absence of a verdict, thus far, has complicated the matter for the Biden campaign and some analysts have contended that attempting to play up a prospective conviction could backfire in the event of a different outcome.

“Because we don’t have a verdict, the Biden campaign right now is in a very delicate situation where the last thing you’d want to do is to play up this big trial and then have Trump be found not guilty,” Boston College Professor David Hopkins told The Hill. Biden is also expected to deliver remarks after the verdict.

Republicans, for their part, have long insisted the case is politically motivated. Speaking on an upcoming edition of the "Just the News, No Noise" television show, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Whatley said that "[a]t its inception, this trial and all of the other trials that we're seeing both civil and criminal around the country, are weaponization of the judicial system for a political reason."

"They tried to take the president off the ballot, they're now trying to keep him off of the campaign trail. Everything about this is partisan. And every one of these prosecutors are partisan Democrats," he continued. "The judge in New York is a partisan Democrat. And we are seeing politics from every aspect of this case. I think the fact that the President has announced he's going to be doing, you know, Oval Office discussions about the case."

"You would think [Biden] would want to distance himself... he's politically prosecuting using the FBI, the IRS, as we know, the SEC, the Department of Justice, all these agencies are being used against President Trump," said Rep. Claudia Tenney, R-N.Y., on the "Just the News, No Noise" television show. "And then they're also being manipulated to cover up information and materials that we are struggling to get on his corrupt relationship with his son's business partners in China and Ukraine and everywhere else. And yet, he's gonna stand there and politicize this, it is incredible."

With the trial nearing its end and a verdict seemingly imminent, the Biden campaign appears poised to shift gears, and recent developments have signaled that the president's team plans to pound Trump on a conviction.

“Donald Trump’s legal troubles are not going to keep him out of the White House. Only one thing will do that: voting this November for Joe Biden,” one person familiar with the campaign’s conversations told NBC News last week. Among the discussions was a dispute about whether to label Trump a “convicted felon.”

“It’s an open question,” the NBC source said at the time.

Over the weekend, the Biden campaign reportedly authorized a shift to “guerilla-style” tactics to address the Trump trial, according to Politico. The first manifestation of the new policy appeared to be the appearance of actor Robert De Niro and two Jan. 6 police officers at the New York courthouse earlier this week. That event saw De Niro speak on behalf of the Biden campaign and warn that Trump would not leave office if he returned to the White House. The appearance was described by some as "chaotic" and DeNiro was heckled by the crowd at times. 

"I don’t mean to scare you. No no, wait, maybe I do mean to scare you. If Trump returns to the White House, you can kiss away these freedoms that we take for granted, and elections, forget about it," he said. "If he gets in, I can tell you right now: he will never leave… Is that the country we want to live in? Do we want him running this country and saying 'I'm not leaving. I'm dictator for life'?"

Reports emerged last week that the campaign was beginning to prepare its responses for any verdict. A recent Reuters report, however, has suggested that the campaign does not plan to change its approach toward Trump’s legal woes, even in the event of conviction. Campaign officials speaking to the outlet suggested that De Niro broke from pre-established remarks to discuss a conviction.

But Republicans seemed to take the De Niro conference's existence as a whole to signal the Biden campaign's willingness to politicize the trial.

"The fact that as you mentioned, Robert De Niro is trying to, you know, hold a press conference outside the courtroom really, truly, truly shows you the politicization that they're trying to put on this," Whatley also said.

At the official level, moreover, the White House has refrained from directly commenting on the trial. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Wednesday told reporters that “I have not talked to the president about that.”

“This is going to be an important day,” she added. “Obviously, the campaign is going to have more to share. The president and I said this yesterday, a couple of times when I was asked this question in various ways, that the president is focused on the American people.”

Conservative detractors, for their part, have long contended that the case is political in nature and many have pointed to the judge’s daughter, who works for a company that boasts President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris as clients.

“The criminal defendant now has just learned after the trial is over, after all the evidence, after all the arguments in the jury instructions that this corrupt Democrat judge… who donated to Biden illegally, donated to Biden's campaign,” said Mike Davis, founder of the Article III Project, on the “John Solomon Reports” podcast. Judge Merchan allegedly donated $35 in political contributions to Democrats in 2020, including a $15 contribution to the campaign of Trump’s opponent, President Joe Biden, CNN reported.

“And then [Merchan's] daughter is raising millions of dollars off of this criminal trial over which he is presiding, requiring his recusal,” Davis added.

Davis also pointed to Judge Merchan’s instruction that the jury need not unanimously agree on the underlying crime in order to convict Trump.

“That's the normal thing for a judge to do if you're a judge in a third world Marxist hellhole like Zimbabwe or North Korea, this is clearly unconstitutional,” he said. “And this just further evidence is that this is a partisan, corrupt, rigged process by these Biden Democrat prosecutors and judge and witness and operatives, to railroad President Trump for the non crimes of a businessman settling a nuisance claim and putting it in his private books. As a legal expense.”

We've learned in these jury instructions by this one version, this corrupt judge that the jury could just pick whatever they want as the second crime, they could pick a New York, a campaign finance violation, a federal campaign by campaign finance violation, maybe a conspiracy to influence the election, which is what presidential campaigns in every campaign in world history has done as conspire to influence the election,” he concluded. “So it's amazing." 

Ben Whedon is an editor and reporter for Just the News. Follow him on X.

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