White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre stressed on Tuesday that President Biden is categorically not involved in any decisions by the Department of Justice to indict former President Trump.
“That is why we have been very, very consistent,” Jean-Pierre added. “When it comes to criminal cases, we just do not comment.”
Her insistence came as Trump and his supporters have moved to characterize Biden as having orchestrated for political reasons a federal grand jury’s indictment of the former President on 37 criminal counts related to Trump’s retaining classified documents.
On Tuesday night Fox News broadcast a chyron that read (in all caps): “Wannabe dictator speaks at the White House after having his political rival arrested.” It ran over a split-screen of Biden and Trump.
That follows a tweet from House Speaker Kevin McCarthy on June 8 that read in part, “It is unconscionable for a President to indict the leading candidate opposing him.”
Trump announced in November that he’s running for reelection in 2024.
Following his arraignment at the federal courthouse in Miami on Tuesday, Trump returned to Bedminster, New Jersey, where he delivered a speech that evening in front of supporters at his golf club. Guests at the event included former DOJ official during Trump’s Administration Kash Patel, former NYPD commissioner Bernie Kerik who was pardoned of federal crimes by Trump in 2020, and MyPillow CEO and 2020 election denier Mike Lindell.
During his speech, Trump echoed those Biden critics accusing the current U.S. President, who is also running for reelection, of “election interference” and of “yet another attempt to rig and steal a presidential election.”
During the Bedminster speech Trump made “numerous false and misleading claims,” according to CNN fact-checkers Daniel Dale and Marshall Cohen.
Perhaps foremost among those claims was that the government documents retrieved by the FBI last August following a search warrant on Trump’s country club residence, Mar-a-lago—including more than 100 of which were marked classified—were his “own documents” and that he had “every right” to keep them under the Presidential Records Act.
In fact, the Presidential Records Act of 1978 “[e]stablishes public ownership of all Presidential records.”
It further “[r]equires that the President and his staff take all practical steps to file personal records separately from Presidential records,” and that “Presidential records automatically transfer into the legal custody of the [National] Archivist as soon as the President leaves office.”
On Tuesday night, Trump also referred to Special Counsel Jack Smith as a “thug” working on “political hit jobs.”
Smith, a veteran career prosecutor whose previous stint was at The Hague, was appointed in November by Attorney General Merrick Garland as special counsel in the classified documents investigation, among other duties.
Tuesday marked the second time in just over two months that Trump faced criminal arraignment.
In April, Trump was arraigned on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records and conspiracy related to his role in hush money payments during the 2016 campaign season—a first in U.S. history. That indictment came down in New York State court.
The grand jury in Florida’s indictment of Trump is another historic first—the charging of a former U.S. President with federal crimes.