President Donald Trump’s ever-growing list of legal issues with the Biden Department of Justice (DOJ) has unsurprisingly become a hot topic for the chattering classes. But not everyone is eager to weigh in. There’s a growing choir of voices from the Democratic camp advising Joe Biden to keep quiet on the issue, according to reporting by The Hill.
This advice comes as the DOJ has leveled three new federal charges against Trump, adding to the ones he already faces related to the classified documents probe. “The best bet for the Biden administration is to play it by the book rather than craft a strategy to deal with the legal cases,” said Ivan Zapien, a former Democratic National Committee official.
President Biden’s campaign is betting on a repeat of 2020 when he beat then-incumbent President Trump. But 2024 will come with new and unprecedented challenges for candidate Biden. https://t.co/blYTLVW8DQ
— The Hill (@thehill) July 27, 2023
While this might seem like a sound tactical move on the surface, the undercurrents suggest a potentially disastrous miscalculation. Maintaining a stony silence might offer a temporary political shield, but it won’t go unnoticed.
As Doug Heye, a GOP operative, plainly stated, Biden “should not say one word on this,” adding, “The second he does, he politicizes the DOJ investigation.” And here lies the crux of the matter. With these statements, Democrats inadvertently reinforce the very narrative Trump has been championing: that his legal issues are politically motivated.
Even though the Biden administration has taken great pains to steer clear of discussing Trump’s indictments and investigation, Trump and his allies have nonetheless credibly accused Biden of “weaponizing” the DOJ and FBI. Biden and his team may inadvertently support Trump’s position by refusing to engage.
While Democrats might believe they’re demonstrating their commitment to justice’s impartiality, there’s a danger that it will be interpreted differently by conservative and independent voters. Democratic strategist Michael Ceraso acknowledged that this silence could be used against Biden. “If Trump loses, a Republican can say Biden was quiet,” he admitted.
On the other hand, a reluctance to engage could also be read as a sign of weakness or uncertainty. Biden might be avoiding hard conversations when strong leadership is needed. That can give an edge to his potential opponents, whether it’s Trump or another GOP candidate.
Indeed, 2024’s political landscape will present unique challenges for candidate Biden. The Democratic strategy appears to be to tread lightly around Trump’s legal issues, attempting to maintain a semblance of distance from the DOJ’s actions. However, such an approach may not necessarily resonate with the broader public, which appreciates transparency and accountability in their leaders.