Biden remains silent after Trump verdict, but his campaign underlined the brutal months ahead of the election

  • President Joe Biden's campaign broke his silence on Thursday about Trump's Manhattan trial verdict.

  • Biden and his campaign had been mostly mum about Trump's historic trial.

  • The verdict marks a major moment ahead of a brutal fall campaign season.

President Joe Biden on Thursday was mostly muted in responding to the historic news that his predecessor is now the first American president to be convicted of a felony.

The White House offered a perfunctory statement to reporters but otherwise avoided the sweeping presidential statement that some had hoped Biden would issue once the verdict in former President Donald Trump's Manhattan criminal trial was in.

"We respect the rule of law, and have no additional comment," White House Counsel's Office spokesperson Ian Sams said in a statement to the White House press pool.

On the other hand, Biden's campaign showed that it may increasingly lean into the reality that one of the two major parties will put forward a convicted felon as its nominee.

"Donald Trump has always mistakenly believed he would never face consequences for breaking the law for his own personal gain," Michael Tyler, a spokesperson for the Biden campaign, said in a statement. "But today's verdict does not change the fact that the American people face a simple reality. There is still only one way to keep Donald Trump out of the Oval Office: at the ballot box. Convicted felon or not, Trump will be the Republican nominee for president."

Minutes after a Manhattan jury delivered 34 guilty charges against Trump, Biden's campaign posted a fundraising link on X urging people to donate to the incumbent Democrat.

"There's only one way to keep Donald Trump out of the Oval Office: At the ballot box," the post said.

The president's campaign stressed the heightened "threat" they say Trump poses to American democracy.

"He is running an increasingly unhinged campaign of revenge and retribution, pledging to be a dictator 'on day one' and calling for our Constitution to be 'terminated' so he can regain and keep power," the spokesperson said. "A second Trump term means chaos, ripping away Americans' freedoms and fomenting political violence — and the American people will reject it this November."

Biden had previously been reticent to comment directly on Trump's legal struggles, even though the former president's criminal indictments have shaped the course of the 2024 race. Politico reported that last year, Biden directed the White House, the Democratic National Committee, and his reelection campaign to largely avoid commenting on Trump's legal cases.

"I've had a great stretch since the State of the Union. But Donald has had a few tough days lately. You might call it stormy weather, Biden said during the White House Correspondents' Dinner, one of the few oblique the president has made to Trump's trial.

In recent days, Biden's campaign has signaled that deference to the justice system is shifting. The president's reelection campaign literally went there, hosting a news conference right outside the Manhattan courthouse. Biden's campaign tapped actor Robert De Niro and two Capitol police officers to speak to reporters, but none of them directly referenced the historic trial taking place behind them.

"We're not here today because of what's going on over there," Biden campaign communication director Michael Tyler told reporters, according to the Associated Press. "We're here today because you all are here."

Biden's campaign also started selling a "Free on Wednesdays" shirt when the president outlined his plan for general election debates, referencing the trial's weekly day off. Trump was required to be present for his trial, which limited his ability to campaign during the week.

Trump's legal issues have overshadowed the 2024 race. Top Republicans began rallying around Trump following the FBI's August 2022 search of Mar-a-Lago and never really stopped as local and federal prosecutors ultimately unveiled four criminal indictments against him. Trump and his campaign also embraced his image as a criminal outlaw, hawking merchandise with his Fulton County, Georgia, mugshot.

But the general election raises new potential risks for Trump. Polling shows voters don't agree with Trump's claim that the trial is a sham. Voters have also responded that they believe Trump did something wrong.

The verdict comes just weeks before Trump and Biden square off in history's earliest televised major presidential debate. It is almost certain that Trump's legal issues will come up again there.

Read the original article on Business Insider