Biden reacts to Trump's conviction for the 1st time, calls attacks on judicial system 'reckless'

"The American principle that no one is above the law was reaffirmed," he said.

May 31, 2024, 6:00 PM

President Joe Biden reacted to Donald Trump's conviction for the first time on Friday, notably criticizing those who have characterized the proceeding as "rigged."

"The American principle that no one is above the law was reaffirmed," Biden said in remarks from the White House. "Donald Trump was given every opportunity to defend himself."

Biden went on to emphasize the hush money trial was completely handled at the state level, and that Trump has the opportunity to appeal just like any other defendant after being convicted by a jury of his peers.

"That's how the American system of justice works, and it's reckless, it's dangerous, it's irresponsible for anyone to say this was rigged just because they don't like verdict," the president said. "Our justice system has endured for nearly 250 years, and it literally is a cornerstone of America. Our justice system should be respected. We should never allow anyone to tear it down. It's as simple as that."

President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the Middle East in the State Dining room at the White House in Washington, D.C., May 31, 2024.
Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters

Trump is the first U.S. president to be criminally convicted after the jury found him guilty of falsifying business records in a case centered on a 2016 payment made to adult-film star Stormy Daniels to conceal allegations of an affair before the presidential election.

Trump vowed to appeal the outcome as he addressed reporters from Trump Tower earlier Friday. In the rambling speech, Trump continued to air grievances about nearly all aspects of the trial, which he characterized as a "sham" and "rigged."

The former president also continued to false accuse the Biden administration of being involved in the case, which was brought by Manhattan prosecutors.

Former President Donald Trump holds a press conference following the verdict in his hush-money trial at Trump Tower on May 31, 2024 in New York City.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Biden pushed back on those assertions as he briefly spoke on the case from the State Dining room, where he gave broader remarks on the Middle East, which provided a contrast of Biden dealing with world affairs while Trump was fighting his conviction at his New York news conference.

"It was a state case, not a federal case, and it was heard by a jury of 12 citizens, 12 Americans, 12 people like you," Biden said of Trump's trial.

"Like millions of Americans who served on juries, this jury was chosen the same way every jury in America is chosen," the president continued. "In the process that Donald Trump's attorney was part of the jury heard five weeks of evidence, five weeks. After careful deliberation, the jury reached a unanimous verdict. They found Donald Trump guilty on all 34 felony counts."

The president did not respond to shouted questions from reporters on whether he believes the conviction will have an impact on the 2024 campaign, or whether Trump should be on the ballot.

Later Friday, as he was leaving an event on the White House South Lawn with the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs, Biden did respond to questions from Fox News reporter Peter Doocy, according to a pool report.

When asked whether he thought Trump's conviction would help Trump in the election, Biden responded, "I have no idea."

Then, when Doocy asked Biden, "Are you worried this could happen to you someday?" Biden answered, "Not at all. I didn't do anything wrong. The system still works."