As Donald Trump became the first former president in US history to be arraigned on criminal charges, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Tuesday that President Joe Biden was focused on other matters.
“Look, the president’s going to focus on the American people like he does every day. This is not something that is a focus for him,” Jean-Pierre said during a press briefing. “He is going to focus on things like making sure we continue to lower prices for the American people.”
Trump voluntarily surrendered to authorities at the Manhattan Criminal Court on Tuesday after a grand jury indicted him on Thursday. The criminal charges stem from hush money paid to adult film star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election to keep her from saying publicly that she had sex with him in 2006. Trump has denied having an affair with her, but he admitted in 2018 that he reimbursed his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, for the payment to Daniels. Falsifying business records to conceal a crime is a violation of New York state law.
Cohen pleaded guilty to federal campaign violations in connection with the payment to Daniels and served time in prison.
As Trump’s historic appearance in court unfolded on Tuesday, Jean-Pierre once again told reporters that Biden had not been informed by authorities ahead of the New York indictment. Republicans have without evidence accused Democrats of orchestrating the criminal case against Trump to derail his campaign for president.
“The president was not given a heads-up,” Jean-Pierre said. “He was briefed by his chief of staff, and he learned about this just like all of you: through the reporting. Again, our focus right now is on the American people.”
She added that Biden would catch up on the developments in court whenever he had time.
“Of course, this is playing out on many of the networks here on a daily basis for hours and hours, so obviously, he will catch part of the news when he has a moment to catch up on the news of the day,” she said.
Jean-Pierre also refused to comment when asked by a reporter if Biden would consider a pardon for Trump if he is convicted.
“I’m not gonna get into any hypotheticals, I’m not gonna get into anything of that,” she said, “all I can tell you is that we do not comment from here on any ongoing cases.”