Aug 2, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Trump's indictment blocks out Biden's bad news

US President Joe Biden speaks at the Truman Civil Rights Symposium at the National Archives in Washington, DC

President Joe Biden. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

Former President Trump's bombshell, four-count indictment over his attempt to overturn the 2020 election monopolized media and political attention Tuesday evening— overshadowing a string of not-so-great stories for President Biden.

Why it matters: As his most-likely 2024 challenger faces a growing list of serious, criminal charges, Biden faces his own political battles over his son's business dealings, the border and the U.S. economy.

Driving the news: Nearly simultaneously with the indictment being filed, Fitch Ratings downgraded the U.S. credit rating, citing the country's deteriorating fiscal position and political instability.

  • The White House was quick to argue that the deterioration occurred under Trump.
  • "It's clear that extremism by Republican officials—from cheerleading default, to undermining governance and democracy, to seeking to extend deficit-busting tax giveaways for the wealthy and corporations—is a continued threat to our economy," Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement.

Hours before, the Washington Post reported that border officials are again seeing a rise in illegal border crossings after a lull.

  • This comes as the Biden administration will likely be forced by courts to end a key, restrictive asylum policy next week. Officials have credited the asylum rule for helping keep border numbers at manageable levels in recent months.
  • All this came one day after a key witness testified to Congress that Hunter Biden sold "the illusion of access" by putting his father on speaker phone with business partners — adding fuel to GOP's attacks of "influence peddling" by the Biden family even as they struggle to draw a clear line to the president.

Yes, but: The news hasn't been all bad for Biden this week. Economic growth is still chugging along, unemployment is hitting record lows in many states, and inflation is coming down.

  • The White House pitch about the success of "Bidenomics" is also getting drowned out — though they may be happy to let Trump's legal woes soak up the headlines for now.

What to watch: Trump allies were quick to try to paint the detailed, 45-page indictment as political — including by raising suspicion about the timing.

  • "The corrupt beurocrats [sic] of the Biden regime charge Trump literally the day after every single disastrous Biden crime family story," Donald Trump Jr. posted on X.
  • Meanwhile, Democrats pounced on the new indictment with unusual intensity, describing it as "the most serious and most consequential thus far[.]"

The bottom line: New polling shows a Trump and Biden neck and neck in a still-hypothetical 2020 rematch.

  • Trump's legal battles and Biden's economic stewardship over the next 15 months could both play significant roles in the outcome of the 2024 election.
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