Democrats are running a tight messaging ship about former President Donald Trump’s historical indictment on Thursday, by refusing to politicize it or give oxygen to his persecution complex.
As President Biden departed the White House on Marine One Friday morning, reporters tried over and over again to get a quote from him on any aspect of former Trump’s indictment, but Biden held firm refusing to comment.
Biden isn't going to give Trump anything he can use to make his indictment political. pic.twitter.com/KYUgZUGeBT
— PoliticusUSA (@politicususa) March 31, 2023
Examples sent to PoliticusUSA this morning from the White House press office via the pool report:
Q. Will the indictment divide the country?
Biden: “I have no comment on that.”
Q. Are you worried about protests?
Biden: “No. I’m not going to talk about the Trump indictment.”
Q. What does the indictment say about the rule of law?
Biden: “I have no comment at all.”
Q. Are the charges politically motivated?
Biden: “I have no comment on Trump.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s statement sent to PoliticusUSA focused his response on this being a moment for the legal system to take precedence over politics, “Mr. Trump is subject to the same laws as every American. He will be able to avail himself of the legal system and a jury, not politics, to determine his fate according to the facts and the law. There should be no outside political influence, intimidation or interference in the case. I encourage both Mr. Trump’s critics and supporters to let the process proceed peacefully and according to the law.”
Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi’s statement sent to PoliticusUSA Thursday night focused on the rule of law and pushing the notion that perhaps Trump should peacefully respect the system, “The Grand Jury has acted upon the facts and the law. No one is above the law, and everyone has the right to a trial to prove innocence. Hopefully, the former President will peacefully respect the system, which grants him that right.”
NO COMMENT ON TRUMP other than to focus on the way the legal system works. Trump is innocent until proven guilty. Trump is entitled to a trial but is not above the law. Trump should behave like others in that he should not incite violence as a tool against the legal system (of the very country he led and is seeking to lead again, no less).
Not only is the absolutely right take politically, but much more importantly it is right to focus on the rule of law.
At long last.
If this democracy is to survive, the rule of law must apply without fear or favor.
All Americans are entitled to an evenhanded application of the law and the presumption of innocence. But no one should be untouchable. If the rule of law is to prevail, it is vital that there not be a class of person that is not held to account.
This tight messaging is also the best way to deprive Trump of the thing he most craves: All of the oxygen in the press. The role as martyr, whipping up violence with the lies fueling his persecution complex.
Trump will get plenty of oxygen in the coverage of the first indictment of a former U.S. president. He and his Republican allies will screech about politicization, sneakily making the argument that Trump should be immune from the law. But it would get a lot worse if Democratic leadership were throwing fuel on the flames. Instead, it’s the cool water of the law.
This tactic of recognizing a long-con troll was masterfully played by then-Senator Barack Obama as he campaigned against Sarah Palin in 2008. He understood immediately that she wanted to goad him into fighting in the mud while playing the victim in response. Instead, Obama was the consummate gentleman while managing to politely deny her fuel for her rage.
Trump sparks something dark and immediate in his supporters and his critics. He brings out the worst in this country and her people. Every time he succeeds in doing so, he wins, because bringing everyone down to his level is the power to divide and to destroy at will.
The Democrats have the right idea and surprisingly good messaging. This has been a long time coming and they have obviously seen exactly where Trump wants to take this moment.
Perhaps this time around, Trump won’t be able to steer the ship quite so easily into his ruinous, gloomy morass of his unique blend of antagonism and democratic backsliding.
Listen to Sarah on the PoliticusUSA Pod on The Daily newsletter podcast here.
Sarah has been credentialed to cover President Barack Obama, then VP Joe Biden, 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and exclusively interviewed Speaker Nancy Pelosi multiple times and exclusively covered her first home appearance after the first impeachment of then President Donald Trump.
Sarah is two-time Telly award winning video producer and a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.
Connect with Sarah on Post, Mastodon @PoliticusSarah@Journa.Host, & Twitter.