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Analysis: Biden slams Trump for conviction as prospects fade of more pre-election trials




CNN

President Joe Biden Decision to recall his predecessor Donald Trump As a first-time “convicted felon” he marks a significant hardening of his rhetoric against his Republican opponent in the general election.

Biden’s escalation at an off-camera fundraiser in Connecticut on Monday evening came as some Democrats pushed for a more forceful political attack on the presumptive Republican nominee following his guilty verdict in his New York financial trial last week.

Biden said: “For the first time in American history, a former president, a convicted felon, is now seeking the presidency.” “But as troubling as it is, what is even more damaging is Donald Trump’s all-out attack on the American justice system.”

Other Democratic officials have used such rhetoric. But the phrase gained more force when it came from the mouth of the president himself. While Republicans have rallied around Trump since his conviction, it remains unclear how he will fare in swing states where a shift of a few thousand votes could determine the November election.

Biden’s remark was another stunning turn in an election tangled with Trump’s multiple legal threats. It came on a day when the first family was embroiled in extraordinary courtroom drama, as Biden’s son Hunter became the first child of a sitting president to stand trial. The younger Biden has pleaded not guilty to charges of illegally purchasing and possessing a gun while addicted or using drugs. He also faces a tax trial in September.

Last week, Biden noted that Trump had been convicted of 34 criminal charges and said it was “reckless, dangerous and irresponsible” for his opponent to say the verdict was rigged. Presidential statements at off-camera fundraisers often serve as a testbed for the rhetoric that later appears at public events. But Biden’s harsh tone will certainly lead to accusations from the Trump campaign that the former president’s conviction came after a process of political weaponization of the judicial system.

In another important legal development on Monday, Trump got good news from Georgiawhere he was among several defendants in a racketeering case over his attempt to steal the swing state from Biden’s column in the 2020 election. The Georgia Court of Appeals has scheduled oral arguments for October 4 on the attempt to remove Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis from the case.

It was just the latest blow to prosecutors pursuing Trump over election interference. The timing of the arguments — just one month before Election Day — makes the time frame impossibly short for trial. The Georgia case, in which Trump has pleaded not guilty, was delayed because the defendants tried to disqualify Willis after she appointed a prosecutor with whom she had an affair.

Two federal cases against Trump, in which he has also pleaded not guilty, are still pending.

The US Supreme Court is expected to issue its ruling this month on Trump’s sweeping request for immunity for his actions while he was president. The justices can still issue a final ruling, but any decision requiring further litigation in lower courts could mean time is running out in the election interference case brought by special counsel Jack Smith with only five months remaining before Election Day. At the same time, multiple disputes in pretrial motions have put on hold a looming federal trial in Florida over Trump’s alleged mishandling of classified documents. Democrats accused Trump-appointed Judge Elaine Cannon of showing political bias in her rulings.

The impasse on multiple fronts means it may be impossible for the US legal system to take into account the alleged attempt by a former president to remain in power against the will of voters before he has a chance to win another term. The delay itself represents a major threat to American democracy’s attempt to save itself because it suggests that a future president who acted in the same way as Trump might expect to get away with it.

Trump’s avoidance of accountability over 2020 election interference — through a combination of clever litigation by his lawyers, some counterproductive decisions by prosecutors and luck — would also significantly increase the stakes of the November election.

If Trump loses, his future after already losing one criminal case looks incredibly bleak, with three cases likely to eventually reach trials that will require huge legal fees. But if Trump wins, he could appoint a prosecutor who can stop federal cases in their tracks. The Department of Justice will be sure to make every effort to delay or tolerate any adverse outcome he faces in the Georgia case as well as the New York hush money conviction for which he is scheduled to be sentenced on July 11. Given the personal stakes, it is certainly reasonable to assume that Trump will stop at nothing to regain power at a time when he refuses to guarantee acceptance of the outcome of the 2024 election.

Ty Cobb, a former White House counsel under Trump, told CNN’s Erin Burnett on Monday that Georgia’s October deadline means “there is no possibility of this case going to trial before the election.” He added that the chances are increasing that Trump will be able to avoid any legal accountability for his actions in 2020 if he wins in 2024.

“It’s very real if he wins the election, and not at all real if he loses,” Cobb said. Referring to the issue of federal election interference and important classified documents, Cobb said: “Both will end up at some point if Trump loses in early to mid-next year, and the Georgia case will likely follow that.”

The slow pace of Trump’s criminal trials contrasts with the efficiency of those facing Hunter Biden, who is also scheduled to face trial on tax charges in September.

The cases of the former president and the son of the current president are not the same, and the cases surrounding Trump are very complex. But they are sure to leave many Democrats wondering at the possibility that the only federal trial tangled with this year’s election will be one targeting Hunter Biden and not Trump, whose actions after the 2020 election have pushed American democracy to its limits.

On Monday, Joe Biden pledged not to comment on the outcome of a federal trial, but in a statement he expressed his boundless love for his son and respect for his success in overcoming cocaine addiction. “I’m the president, but I’m also a father,” Biden said.

Biden’s soaring rhetoric at Monday’s fundraiser comes on the heels of Trump warning in a Fox News interview that aired Sunday of consequences if Judge Juan Merchan imposes any prison sentence following last week’s guilty verdict.

“I’m not sure the public will support that,” the former president said. “I think it’s going to be difficult for the public to accept. You know, at a certain point, there’s a breaking point. Some top Democrats accused Trump of inciting violence in his remarks, which took on a more serious tone given his previous call for his supporters to ‘fight like hell’ before the mob attack Which his supporters launched on the US Capitol building on January 6, 2021.

“It is clear that Donald Trump is once again inciting violence, and potential violence, when he is sentenced,” Rep. Adam Schiff told Cassie Hunt on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. The California Democrat accused Trump of issuing “another dangerous call for violence.”

The unusual tangle of the 2024 election and legal issues affecting both Trump and Biden will likely dominate a Capitol Hill hearing on Tuesday when Attorney General Merrick Garland will face new questioning by Republicans.

Garland pledged to restore trust in the legal system when he took office after the turbulent Trump years by making sure everyone plays by the same rules.

Three years later, much of Washington has been frustrated by an effort that seems strange in an era when judges, prosecutors and juries in a growing wave of politically loaded cases are under almost constant attack.

But the hostility toward Garland has not only come from Republicans, who will be looking to retaliate on Tuesday after Trump’s conviction. Democrats are concerned about the slow pace of federal investigations. CNN reported that the White House complained to Garland after special counsel Robert Hoare’s report on Joe Biden’s handling of classified documents portrayed the president’s memory as significantly degraded in a report that unleashed weeks of political fallout.

Garland is also likely to face scrutiny over Hunter Biden’s impeachment trial. House Republicans exploited the issue to try to damage the president politically, especially after failing to provide any evidence that he benefited from Hunter Biden’s business dealings in their failed impeachment investigation.

Republicans celebrated when the plea deal, which they viewed as a “sweetheart” treatment for Hunter Biden, collapsed in court. But the Hunter Biden trial, as well as the federal corruption trial targeting Democratic New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez, undermine Republican claims of a biased justice system in the wake of Trump’s sentencing in New York last week.



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