Democrats to Biden: Start pushing back more aggressively against Trump

Francesca Chambers, McClatchy Washington Bureau on

Published in Political News

In recent weeks, Biden has signaled a willingness to more vigorously counter the activity of Trump and his supporters on legal and constitutional issues. During a CNN town hall last Thursday, Biden said he is open to changing the rules of the U.S. Senate to allow federal voting legislation to pass by a simple majority.

Biden waived executive privilege this month for a set of records pertaining to the Jan. 6 riot that a congressional committee had sought, and he encouraged the Department of Justice to prosecute a Trump associate attempting to skirt a subpoena issued by the committee.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters recently that Biden took the unusual step of declining to assert privilege on the documents because Trump “abused the office of the presidency in attempt to subvert a peaceful transfer of power,” actions which she said “represented a unique and existential threat to our democracy that we don’t feel can be swept under the rug.”

But the White House has declined at other points to respond directly to Trump’s attacks and false information. After a rally this month where Trump told his supporters the election “was rigged” and repeatedly criticized Biden, Psaki told reporters the president would spend his time and energy on leading the country and bringing people together.

“The president’s focus is on working to deliver for the American people. He didn’t watch the rally, I can assure you of that. I’m not sure he’s even seen clips of the rally,” Psaki said.

Bassin said that while it is “reasonable” for the White House not to engage in a daily sparring match with Trump, it is a “dangerous dereliction” not to bring the full force of the presidency to bear on insurrectionists.


He said the DOJ should pursue criminal charges against former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, who says he is protected by executive privilege even though he did not work at the White House at the time of the riots, and prosecute anyone who was part of the Capitol attack.

“It is clear to everybody watching that the number one priority of the Biden White House is passing an infrastructure bill and the Build Back Better plan,” said Bassin, who was Associate White House Counsel under former President Barack Obama. “The number one priority is not protecting American democracy.”

The White House declined to comment for this story.

Traditionally, presidents have allowed the DOJ to operate independently. They have also mostly refrained from assailing their predecessors while in office. But some Democrats say that Trump’s unfounded accusations are so troubling that it requires a more direct response from Biden.


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