President Biden speaks to reporters in Rolling Fork, Miss., on Friday. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)
Dear Commons Community,
As President Biden strode out of the West Wing yesterday, a reporter asked him if he had any thoughts about the indictment of former President Donald Trump by a Manhattan grand jury.
“I have no comment on Trump,” Biden said.
In refusing to say anything about the legal drama in which Trump now finds himself embroiled, Biden is remaining diligently on script, which has amounted to a blank page when it comes to the several federal and state investigations targeting his predecessor. Asreproted by Yahoo Newws and other news outlets.
Known on Capitol Hill and during his time as Barack Obama’s vice president for his inveterate loquacity, Biden has been notably disciplined in speaking about Trump, whom he used to refer to as “the former guy.” As last year’s midterm elections neared, Biden took to lambasting the MAGA Republicans he claimed were beholden to Trump and his extremist ideas.
But he has never commented on Trump’s legal challenges, which include a federal investigation into the handling of classified documents, a Georgia inquiry into electoral interference and District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s case in New York.
Invariably, the White House refers the matter to the Department of Justice.
Invariably, the Department of Justice says nothing.
That is precisely how the White House wants things to stay. With partisan sentiment already on such florid display on Capitol Hill, the president and his advisers believe that he benefits by remaining well above the fray. (It only helps that the Justice Department typically doesn’t comment on ongoing investigations, making the job easier for White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, as well as for Biden himself.)
As pundits on cable news debated the merits of Bragg’s emerging case against Trump on Friday, Biden toured an area of Mississippi devastated by tornadoes. With him was the state’s Republican governor, Tate Reeves, as well as Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, also a member of the GOP.
The dichotomy recalled Biden’s infrastructure-related trip to the Kentucky-Ohio border earlier this year, which took place as House Republicans were in the midst of a contentious speakership fight. While recriminations flew on Capitol Hill, the president basked in a bipartisan Midwestern glow, standing next to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, both of whom are Republicans.
If the mood in Mississippi was understandably much more somber, it nevertheless broadcast a similar message, one the White House is especially eager to promulgate ahead of next year’s presidential election: that Biden is a serious president, focused on serious business, while some Republicans and conservatives push antisemitic tropes and threaten violence.
The contrast redounds to Biden’s benefit, the White House believes — if only he can remain quiet.