WASHINGTON: Joe Biden has repeatedly said he’d like to face Donald Trump again in 2024, but the indictment of his former – and possibly future – opponent has opened a new box of political risks for the Democrat.
On Friday morning, Biden stopped to speak with reporters as he left for a trip to survey tornado damage in Mississippi – instead of walking right past as he often does.
“I’m not going to talk about the Trump indictment,” he said to multiple shouted questions. “I have no comment on Trump.”
The White House has released no formal statement since the revelation on Thursday that Trump would become the first ever former president to face criminal charges, over a hush money payment to a porn star during the 2016 election.
Biden’s administration, seeking to avoid any perception of influencing the justice system, will likely remain “quiet for as long as they can”, former press secretary Jen Psaki said on MSNBC.
Trump quickly claimed the indictment was “political persecution and election interference,” and accused Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg of “doing Joe Biden’s dirty work”.
Other top Republicans similarly expressed outrage at Bragg, an elected Democrat, with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy pledging to hold him to account over an “unprecedented abuse of power.”
Psaki advised the White House to “keep your head down” and don’t “feed into the politics of this”.
Until now, her successor at the White House press room podium, Karine Jean-Pierre, has remained silent on the legal proceedings against Trump, using as cover a law that prohibits government officials from discussing future elections.