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If there’s one thing Joe Biden must do as Donald Trump faces a mountain of legal challenges, he must keep his mouth shut. The temptation to comment must be overwhelming, especially for the White House staff and those lined up to work on Biden’s 2024 campaign. Yet, for various reasons, the urge to offer a poorly timed jab from Joe, which usually falls flat, has to be tempered in these unprecedented times. While he may be an incompetent clown presiding over America’s precipitous decline, Joe Biden occupies the Oval Office and the powers and privileges of the bully pulpit. Even a lousy quip can have devastating consequences for him and his party in the long run regarding the potential arrest of Trump over the hush money scheme he had with former porn star Stormy Daniels.
The case is shoddy, the statute of limitations for the violations of the law being considered has expired, and the whole circus reeks of political bias. It’s unsurprising, and even legal analysts, who are not Trump supporters, know matchsticks support the case. Yet, and I had to admit this, should Biden continue this moment of Zen regarding Trump’s legal woes, it shows he’s doing something the former president is not: playing the long game.
Biden wants Trump as the 2024 Republican nominee. And the Donald’s call for protests if he’s arrested and the half-cocked social media post from him declaring that he was going to be placed in cuffs this week don’t help his case with voters who might want to vote for him again but are hesitant to gamble backing a man viewed to be unpredictable. In 2016, that worked since voters wanted change and were tired of the Clintons. In 2024, Trump is now a former president. He’s no outsider, and he can’t use the same playbook, though that’s what the Biden team is counting on, hence the silence over what the Manhattan district attorney’s office is going to do (via NBC News):
So far this week, President Joe Biden has announced new steps to conserve land and water. He met with the cast of “Ted Lasso” to discuss mental health and released a 500-page report on the economy.
Missing was any acknowledgment of the drama that has transfixed much of Washington: the possible criminal indictment of his past and potentially future rival, Donald Trump.
There’s no blueprint for what a sitting president should do when a predecessor is charged with a crime — something that’s never happened in the nation’s history. Biden’s approach, for now, has been to keep silent and avoid a scrum that threatens to pull him in, Democratic strategists and people close to the White House said.
A Trump indictment could create a thorny set of temptations and pitfalls for a sitting president on the cusp of a re-election campaign. Democrats close to Biden see Trump as a heavy favorite to be the Republican nominee in 2024 — and a flawed candidate they want to face in a general election.
A go-to move for campaigns on any level is to amplify rivals’ troubles — a temptation to talk endlessly about the legal problems plaguing Trump. But Biden needs to be reticent given his position, legal experts cautioned. He appointed Merrick Garland, the attorney general who will ultimately decide whether to prosecute Trump in a separate federal investigation stemming from his handling of classified documents and his efforts to reverse the 2020 election results.
Any comment Biden makes about Trump’s mounting legal troubles could be construed as an attempt to influence Garland.
The question is whether Biden will remember to stick to the script of his handlers and not let slip a dig at Trump or any remarks that could be construed as influencing the investigation. There’s also a chance that Trump isn’t indicted in this investigation. He still faces more 2020 election interference probes.
One thing Biden does have going is that the media knows the implications of his commenting on Trump’s legal issues, so you’d assume they’d avoid asking him questions about the troubles engulfing his predecessor. And while he’s mentally degraded, I do trust that Joe will be aware enough to know him commenting on such a matter behind the seal of the president of the United States. In the meantime, Trump faces a multi-front legal war based on weak allegations of election interference, insurrection, and porn payments. But that’s also the point: to keep this man embroiled in endless scandal, which may not work on the die-hards, but for those voters that Trump needs to win in a national election again, their patience has long worn thin. I’m not saying I’m against Trump—I’ll vote for him again should he win the nomination. But the uphill climb is more like scaling Everest, and I’m not sure he can do it again.
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