The first rule about the Trump indictments is that you don’t talk about the Trump indictments.
President Joe Biden won’t, anyway, and neither will his White House spokespeople.
While former President Donald Trump and his supporters digested Thursday evening’s news that the Department of Justice was adding three more counts to the original 37 charges involving classified documents at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home, Biden ignored it.
At an event in Auburn, Maine to tout his economic record, the sitting president criticized his predecessor several times. But it wasn’t about Trump’s most recent legal trouble – this one, charges that he and two others sought to delete security footage requested by federal investigators. It was about the economy, the issue Republicans had assumed would be their central argument against a second Biden term.
“The share of working-age Americans in the workforce is as high as it’s been in 20 years, including every single day my predecessor was president,” Biden said, after boasting about a record 13 million-plus new jobs created in his first two years, plus historically low unemployment levels and a better-than-expected 2.4% second-quarter growth in the economy announced this week.”
Spending on construction has nearly doubled in the past two years, Biden told an enthusiastic crowd at Auburn Manufacturing Inc., a company that has recovered and grown in recent years. That’s “after growing only 2% under my predecessor during his four-year term,” Biden added, characteristically not mentioning by name the man who has put his “Trump” moniker on everything from real estate to vodka, a now-shuttered university, and steaks.
And on the national debt? “In the four years that the last guy was president, he raised the national debt by almost 40%,” Biden said. “In two years, I cut the debt by $1.7 trillion – while I was doing all of this.”
Inflation – an issue on which Republicans have hammered Biden relentlessly – is coming down as well, Biden said. “Maybe they’ll decide to impeach me because it’s coming down,” the president joked, referring to impeachment chatter in the GOP-controlled House. “I don’t know. Anyway, another story.”
But Biden is not going after Trump’s mounting legal woes, likely to be a problem for the former president in a general election even as his supporters rally around him in the primary.
Biden would not answer questions as he left Washington, D.C. for Maine on Thursday. And White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre, briefing reporters on Air Force One, declined to talk about the newest indictment news, directing all questions to the Justice Department.
Trump was hit Thursday with a “superseding indictment,” which expands on the charges he is facing for taking classified documents – some of them top-secret – to Mar-a-Lago and then failing to return them to the government after repeated requests and a subpoena.
Thursday, special counsel Jack Smith made public an updated indictment, which includes evidence that Trump employees discussed getting rid of surveillance tape investigators sought to determine if, indeed, boxes of classified material were moved.
“The boss wants the server deleted,” one worker said. It’s unclear if any surveillance tape was, in fact, deleted.
Secondly, the superseding indictment suggests authorities now have in their possession a classified map Trump reportedly had at his Bedminster, New Jersey golf course and property, waving it in front of people who did not have clearance to see it and saying on tape that he no longer had the authority to declassify it.
That would undercut comments Trump has made in the media that he was merely being brash, and that the papers heard shuffling on tape did not include classified material.
Trump is scheduled to speak at the Lincoln Dinner, a Republican-sponsored event in Iowa, Friday evening. It will mark the first time Trump and his second closest opponent in the polls, Florida Gov. Ron Desantis, will be on the same stage.
Biden, meanwhile, continued to embrace the issue that earlier this year appeared to be his greatest weakness, bragging that “Bidenomics” was working.
“I’m not here to declare victory on the economy, We have more work to do,” Biden said. “Bidenomics is just another way of saying, restore the American dream.”