Rule of Law

Biden blasts Trump for 'reckless' attacks on the justice system

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President Biden at a podium

President Joe Biden delivered remarks on the verdict in former President Donald Trump's hush money trial from the State Dining Room of the White House on Friday. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Joseph Biden spoke in defense of the American justice system Friday, blasting former president Donald Trump for attacking the case that resulted in a guilty verdict a day earlier, when Trump was convicted of falsifying business records to conceal a hush money payment to an adult-film actress.

“It’s reckless, it’s dangerous, and it’s irresponsible for anyone to say this was rigged just because they don’t like the verdict,” Biden said from the White House, his first remarks since Trump was convicted by a Manhattan jury Thursday. “The justice system should be respected, and we should never allow anyone to tear it down.”

Earlier Friday, Trump had railed again against the trial, attacking the judge, prosecutors and witnesses. He asserted without evidence that Biden was behind the prosecution—which was led by a state-level district attorney—and claimed that “we’re living in a fascist state.”

A day earlier, emerging from the courthouse after the verdict, Trump had complained that the trial was “rigged” and a “disgrace.”

The dueling media messages by the two top 2024 contenders came at an unprecedented moment in presidential history. On Thursday, a New York jury found Trump guilty on 34 counts, making him the first former president to be convicted of felonies.

See also: Statement of ABA President Mary Smith RE: Verdict in Donald Trump trial

The former president has attacked the legal system, including New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan and Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, throughout the process. On Friday, responding to the convictions, Trump made several false or misleading claims during a wide-ranging news conference, resurfacing his long-standing grievances.

He also contended that holding the trial in Manhattan, where most voters are liberal Democrats, prevented him from getting a fair hearing.

“This is a scam. This is a rigged trial,” Trump said, blasting the judge as a “devil” who had conflicts of interest. “It shouldn’t have been in that venue. We shouldn’t have had that judge.”

Biden, who announced unscheduled remarks Friday to address the war in Gaza, used the first portion of that speech to talk briefly about Trump’s conviction, using the kind of direct language that he has avoided thus far in an effort to shield himself from claims of political intervention in the case.

“The American principle that no one is above the law was reaffirmed,” Biden said, pointing out that a unanimous jury found Trump guilty and that it was a state case, not a federal case led by his administration.

The president also sought to cast Trump’s claims about a rigged and biased trial as out of step with his own view of the U.S. justice system as a pillar of the nation’s democracy.

“Our justice system has endured for nearly 250 years, and it literally is the cornerstone of America,” Biden said.

Biden’s remarks were notable in part because his son, Hunter Biden, is scheduled to face his own jury soon. Hunter Biden has been charged with lying about his use of illegal drugs on a form he was required to fill out to buy a handgun in 2018. His federal trial on those charges is set to begin Monday.

Hunter Biden is also set to face separate tax evasion charges in California in a case scheduled to begin in September, after prosecutors alleged that he failed to pay about $1.4 million in taxes.

He has entered not guilty pleas in each case. The president has largely avoided commenting publicly on the matter, other than to say that his son, who long suffered from a drug addiction, did nothing wrong.

“The president and the first lady, they love their son,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Monday, declining to comment on the specifics of the case beginning June 3. “They are proud of how their son has been able to get back on his feet and continue his progress, and they will continue to support him.”

The 2024 campaign is entwined with the justice system to an unusual degree. Trump is almost certain to appeal his conviction, and he also faces three other criminal cases—on charges of mishandling classified documents and seeking to overturn the 2020 election—though they are unlikely to come to trial before the election.

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