Biden not looking to make Trump's legal troubles an election issue, campaign co-chair insists
The president wants "an independent Justice Department," Cedric Richmond said.
President Joe Biden is not looking to make former President Donald Trump's legal troubles central to his 2024 pitch, the co-chair of his reelection campaign said Sunday.
"The president has said from the beginning that he wanted an independent Justice Department ... so we're not going to comment," Cedric Richmond said in an interview with ABC "This Week" co-anchor Martha Raddatz. "We're not going to focus on Donald Trump's legal problems."
Rather than Trump's charges -- including two state and two federal cases, all of which Trump denies -- Richmond said Biden will focus on what he and his team view as his legislative accomplishments and attacking the Republican field on policy issues, including abortion, Social Security and Medicare.
"We will let the justice system take care of what the justice system should take care of," Richmond said.
On Thursday night, as Trump's motorcade was arriving at the Fulton County, Georgia, jail for his surrender on charges related to the push to overturn his 2020 election loss in the state, Biden blasted out a fundraising pitch online.
"Apropos of nothing, I think today's a great day to give to my campaign," Biden wrote in his appeal for money sent out in an email to supporters and on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.
Pressed by Raddatz about the timing, Richmond maintained, "I wouldn't read much into that." Biden told reporters on Friday only that he had seen Trump's unprecedented mug shot. "Handsome guy. Wonderful guy," he said.
Trump himself has looked to capitalize on his fourth indictment, selling T-shirts, mugs and bumper stickers with his mug shot emblazoned on them.
Trump campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung told ABC News that Trump received $4.18 million on Friday, the day after his booking in Atlanta, making it the campaign's best fundraising day of the 2024 race.
The Biden campaign and the White House have long sought to distance themselves from Trump's mounting criminal charges. Trump has claimed the cases against him are politically motivated, which prosecutors reject.
Richmond, on Sunday, echoed Biden's argument that the entire Republican field is too closely tied to Trump's "extreme" policies and that whoever the party's 2024 nominee is, they will campaign in Trump's image.
"I think what we saw that night was a race to the extreme part of the Republican Party, a race to the MAGA base," Richmond told Raddatz, reacting to last week's GOP primary debate. "And that's what we expected."
Richmond said the debate had no impact on the Biden campaign's strategy which, so far, has been to lean into the president's economic agenda under the "Bidenomics" label, built around low unemployment and increasing domestic investments.
Many voters, however, have said in polls that they don't approve of Biden's handling of the economy. Republicans have seized on the label as an example of policies that they contend hurt consumers, including by driving up inflation.
Richmond pushed back on "This Week," pointing to high consumer confidence and job satisfaction among the American people, despite signs of pessimism elsewhere.
Pressed on what the president's team needed to do to message the benefits they routinely trumpet, Richmond said, "We have to keep telling them about what we're doing."
"What we're gonna do is continue to do what we've been doing and that is to talk to people about the fact that we're creating jobs, bringing costs down, bringing manufacturing back to the United States from overseas," Richmond said. "And that's what campaigns are for. For us to go out and tell the story of us meeting challenges, what we've accomplished, the challenges we still have to meet and all of those things."
At Wednesday's Republican primary debate, in Milwaukee, candidates took aim at Biden's economic record.
"We need to send Joe Biden back to his basement and reverse American decline and it starts with understanding we must reverse Bidenomics," Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said.
Another thing some of the GOP hopefuls are trying to hit Biden on is his age. At 80, he is America's oldest president.
Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley has called for mental competency tests for candidates over 75 years old -- an apparent swipe at Republican front-runner Trump as well, as he is 76. Haley has also suggested Biden won't live long enough to finish a second term.
Former Vice President Mike Pence said on the debate stage that he was seeking the White House "because we don't need a president who's too old, and we don't need a president who's too young."
Though Biden has acknowledged his age is a factor that the public is considering, his campaign won't engage on it and Biden himself has said his record is proof of his stamina.
"While they talk about age, we will talk about the things that Americans are talking about, and that's kitchen table issues," Richmond said Sunday.
"We're going to focus on the issues at hand and we'll talk about the fact that this president wants to protect women's reproductive freedom, we will talk about the fact that he put Ketanji Brown Jackson on the Supreme Court and that labor, climate groups and women's organizations are all -- have endorsed him already," Richmond said.
ABC News' Soo Rin Kim and Lalee Ibssa contributed to this report.