Biden campaign preps for a Trump trial verdict: From the Politics Desk

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Welcome to the online version of From the Politics Desk, an evening newsletter that brings you the NBC News Politics team’s latest reporting and analysis from the campaign trail, the White House and Capitol Hill.

In today’s edition, our White House team reports on how Joe Biden and his team are preparing for the upcoming verdict in Donald Trump's hush money trial. Plus, "Meet the Press" moderator Kristen Welker dives into how voters are feeling about the state of American democracy.

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Biden campaign preps for a Trump trial verdict

By Monica Alba, Natasha Korecki and Mike Memoli

President Joe Biden has largely steered clear of former President Donald Trump’s legal woes. But with a verdict in the hush money trial coming as soon as next week, Biden’s campaign is exploring a shift to a new, more aggressive posture, according to two people familiar with the strategy.

Regardless of the outcome, top Biden campaign officials plan to stress to voters that Trump will be on the ballot in the fall and that no potential court proceeding will change that fact.

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A person familiar with the discussions summed it up this way: “Donald Trump’s legal troubles are not going to keep him out of the White House. Only one thing will do that: voting this November for Joe Biden.”

If Trump is found guilty at his trial in New York City, the Biden campaign will also have to consider whether to brand him as a “convicted felon,” this person added. “It’s an open question.”

The campaign views the conclusion of the trial as one of the 2024 election’s inflection points, when the minute-by-minute sideshow of courtroom drama will end and the time for voters to focus on what’s at stake in November will arrive, one of the sources said.

The Biden team expects to send a message that if Trump is acquitted, or if there is a hung jury, voters shouldn’t wait for the outcome of his other legal issues to be determinative, either.

For the most part, Biden has been careful about directly commenting on the trial, avoiding playing into Trump’s narrative that his legal issues amount to election interference from the Biden administration.

But the president made a splash last week when, in a video posted to social media, he agreed to debate Trump, musing, “I hear you’re free on Wednesdays.” Biden was referring to Trump’s courtroom schedule, which has allowed a day off each Wednesday. The line was widely shared across social media platforms, and the campaign started selling T-shirts with it.

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What voters are saying about the state of democracy

By Kristen Welker

So many issues are at stake in November — the economy, abortion, immigration, foreign affairs, even the future of the Supreme Court.

But also hanging over the 2024 election is the state of America’s democracy.

Just take a look at these data points:

Eighty-one percent of voters — including supermajorities of both Democrats and Republicans — believe democracy in America is under threat, according to a recent Georgetown Institute of Politics and Public Service poll.

Nearly a third of voters feel so strongly about it that they say they will vote for or against a candidate solely on that issue, last month’s national NBC News poll showed.

A national CNN poll also found last month that a third of voters — including 68% of Republicans — said they did not believe that President Joe Biden won the 2020 election, confirming that election denialism remains in the background of the 2024 contest.

Another third of voters say they’re not confident votes in the election will be counted accurately, according to a recent national Quinnipiac University poll.

Half of swing state voters worry about political violence resulting from the election and its aftermath, according to the latest Bloomberg/Morning Consult polling.

And then there’s this: Nearly 40% of the local election officials surveyed this year by the Brennan Center for Justice said they have experienced threats, harassment or abuse.

That includes four secretaries of state — from Arizona, Georgia, Michigan and Pennsylvania — who will join me this Sunday to talk about the threats they and their families faced in the aftermath of the 2020 election.

For more on these issues and many more, tune into “Meet the Press” this Sunday for a bipartisan conversation about America’s democracy — and how to safeguard it.

That’s all from The Politics Desk for now. If you have feedback — likes or dislikes — email us at

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