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Biden has stayed silent on Trump’s trial. The verdict will change that.

Joe Biden plans to break his vow of silence and publicly address the criminal trials Donald Trump is facing when a verdict is reached, four people familiar with internal deliberations told POLITICO.

Biden intends to initially address the verdict in a White House setting — not a campaign one — to show his statement isn’t political, according to the people, who were granted anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

If the jury convicts Trump, Biden’s team will then argue that the result shows Trump is ill-suited for office and that it demonstrates the extremes to which the former president would go to win again. The campaign’s social media team is considering leveraging the line of attack further, with discussions underway about referring to the ex-president online as “Convicted Felon Donald Trump.”

His team is also preparing for a barrage of Republican and Trump attacks if the former president’s acquitted or if there’s a hung jury.

Closing arguments are set for Tuesday and the jury could reach its decision as early as next week. And Biden will speak at some point after that — a definitive decision on timing and setting has not yet been made — no matter the outcome, whether it be a conviction, acquittal or hung jury. The message will be different for specific rulings, but the fundamental point will remain the same: That America’s legal system worked and that the process should be respected.

“This is an important moment and the president first and foremost needs to stress that the American system works, even and especially in an election year,” said one of the four people granted anonymity to discuss those deliberations. “And in a measured way, it becomes part of his argument against Trump too: Do Americans really want this?”

The Biden team’s plans are still being deliberated and could change, the people familiar said. The White House and Biden campaign declined comment.

The first criminal prosecution of a former president has presented delicate politics for the president, especially as his son Hunter faces separate trials over the summer and fall on gun and tax charges. Biden has stayed away from Trump’s trial to avoid perceptions of interference, even as some fellow Democrats have encouraged him to more aggressively spotlight the charges against Trump: that he made a hush money payment to cover up an affair with a porn star in violation of campaign finance laws.

And even though the president will likely discuss a guilty verdict at times on the campaign trail, his team doesn’t view even a conviction as likely to meaningfully change the trajectory of the campaign. Aides do not believe the trial has resonated widely with voters outside the Acela corridor.

But it could make a difference along the margins, and that may matter in a race expected to be extremely close.

“I don’t think [Biden] needs to run to the briefing room to talk about this,” said Jennifer Palmieri, former communications director for President Barack Obama. “But, at some point, he should address the conviction saying that a jury of Donald Trump’s peers have convicted him of a crime and it would do extraordinary damage to the standing of the United States and to the credibility of our democratic system for someone Americans found guilty of a crime to then be elected president.”

The Biden team has long believed that too many Democratic voters have put their faith in a conviction to cripple Trump’s changes and note that a guilty verdict does not inherently prevent the Republican from being elected. The campaign believes that the first presidential debate next month is a far more important moment to jostle the race, and that issues like abortion, inflation and a pair of foreign wars have far more resonance with voters.

Out of more than 100 fundraising emails sent by Biden’s campaign since the New York proceedings kicked off in mid-April, only two mentioned the word “trial” — both messages that noted how good the trial had been for Trump’s fundraising and asked Democratic donors for money to help Biden keep up.

Should Trump avoid conviction, the president’s aides are bracing for the former president to issue a barrage of claims about how he bested an investigation that he has claimed was orchestrated by Biden against him. That outcome could further fire up Trump’s existing supporters.

But just as Biden is poised to break his near-silence on Trump’s trial, many in Democratic politics are urging caution.

“I don’t think it’s important to rub it in,” said Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.). “I don’t think anybody on our side should be reacting with glee. It just should be a tragedy that an American president has been convicted of real crimes.”

Interviews with a dozen of Biden’s allies on the Hill and prominent Democratic strategists unaffiliated with but supportive of his campaign say the president and other Democrats should stay mum if Trump is found guilty — in large part because they believe such a verdict will do the work for him.

Trump’s myriad crimes and ongoing legal troubles are well-known to voters, they argue — and Biden and his surrogates don’t need to remind them. The criminal conviction of a former president looking to return to power is a somber moment that shouldn’t be nakedly wielded for political gain. Does Biden really want to be talking about a porn star or give fodder to Republican claims that he’s weaponizing the government against a political opponent? And, some strategists say, speaking out on Trump’s trial also carries the risk of drawing attention to the legal morass surrounding Hunter Biden.

“If he’s convicted, he will be called by everyone in Democratic politics ‘convicted felon Donald Trump,’” said Matt Bennett, executive vice president for public affairs at the center-left think tank Third Way.

Biden doesn’t “need to engage with it, because everyone else will,” Bennett said. “He is the only person who could in some ways lessen the political impact of this by getting involved, because Trump could then make the case that the verdict is political.”

Not all Democrats are in agreement with a hands-off strategy. After four years with Trump out of the White House, some Biden supporters worry that swing voters need to be reacquainted with the drama that engulfs the country when Trump is in power.

“At some point, people have to get real and say, ‘You really want this man in the Oval Office? Do you really want him representing the people of this country?,’” said Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.).

Biden himself gave the directive a year ago that the entities that the White House controls, which includes the reelection campaign and the Democratic National Committee, were not to publicly discuss any of the criminal investigations into Trump, keeping a clear line between the West Wing and the Department of Justice.

And beyond a few jokes, the Biden team has largely stuck to that edict. Aides said that Biden would continue to remain silent about the three ongoing investigations into Trump — over his handling of classified documents, as well as election interference cases on the federal level and one in Georgia — and those trials will likely not begin before voters cast their ballots.

Additional reporting contributed by Ally Mutnick, Lisa Kashinsky, Brakkton Booker and Jessica Piper.

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