‘No One Above The Law’, Biden Hopes Trump Verdict Speaks For Itself

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If anyone expected Joe Biden to be celebrating the fact that election rival Donald Trump is now a convicted felon, they were disappointed.

Instead the Democrat’s campaign issued a sober warning that the only way to prevent Trump returning to the White House remained the ballot box.

The challenge now will be for Biden to extract political gain for Trump’s historic criminal conviction, but in such a way that he avoids fueling Trump supporters’ belief that the prosecution itself was political.

“In New York today, we saw that no one is above the law,” Biden campaign communications director Michael Tyler 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.”

The White House was even less keen to get its hands dirty after the former occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue was convicted on all 34 counts in his hush money case.

“We respect the rule of law, and have no additional comment,” Ian Sams, White House Counsel’s Office spokesperson, said in a curt statement.

From Biden himself there was no comment on Thursday.

The president was at his home in Delaware on what was already a hugely significant day for him — nine years to the day after his son Beau’s death from brain cancer in 2015, aged 46.

Trump’s historic conviction — which would have been a knockout blow in any other election year — is undoubtedly a brighter spot for Biden after weeks of polling showing him neck and neck nationally with Trump who leads the Democrat narrowly in most of the key swing states.

Biden has previously made occasional jokes about Trump’s legal plight, including mocking him for falling asleep at the trial and saying he’s been too “busy” to be on the campaign trail.

But he’s largely stayed muted on the issue, and the question is now whether he keeps a presidential distance above the fray or opts for a more aggressive approach.

Biden will be hoping that the verdict can sway even a small number of independents or wavering voters who could be crucial in one of the closest White House races in living memory.

“It helps Biden for this reason: I’m Joe Biden and I’m not a convicted felon,” said Democratic strategist Rachel Bitecofer.

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Biden has already launched a social media fundraising drive off the back of the verdict.

Trump’s conviction “speaks for itself,” David Karol, who teaches government and politics at the University of Maryland, told AFP.

“I don’t think this is the kind of thing that Biden needs to talk about to bring it to voters’ attention. It’s a big deal, it’s historic.”

Biden would also be keen to “avoid the impression that he is directing the prosecution of his opponent,” he added.

Karol said however that he “wouldn’t be surprised” if Biden found it hard to resist bringing it up in his first election debate with Trump, which is scheduled for June 27, two weeks before the Republican is sentenced.

David Axelrod, a former top aide to President Barack Obama, meanwhile warned Biden against being “tempted to flood the zone about the conviction.”

“While Trump wallows in his own troubles, the right play for Biden may be to lean even more into the day-to-day concerns of people. The contrast would be powerful,” Axelrod said on X.

Biden may also be reluctant to comment given his own family situation.

With surviving son Hunter due in court next week on gun charges “he may want to avoid talking about court cases at all,” said Wendy Schiller, a professor of political science at Brown University.

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