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Robert De Niro appears outside the courtroom during closing arguments in the Trump trial

Robert De Niro appears outside the courtroom during closing arguments in the Trump trial

(CNN) — After months of ignoring or mocking former President Donald Trump’s criminal investigation, the Biden campaign on Tuesday decided to hold a news conference about Trump’s record outside the courthouse for the first time.

The president’s team stressed that the event, which featured a surprise appearance by actor Robert De Niro as a campaign spokesman, was not intended to discuss aspects of the investigation. But he no doubt wanted to draw the attention of the criminal defendant who was in a nearby building.

“If Trump returns to the White House, you can say goodbye to these freedoms that we all take for granted,” De Niro said, as protesters chanted and car alarms blared in the background. “And the elections… forget them, that’s it. It’s over, and if it comes in, I can tell you right now: It’s never going away. It’s never going away.”

Previously, Biden’s team had been wary of doing or saying anything that might appear to politicize the former president’s investigation. In his view, Trump’s trial speaks for itself, re-introducing the former president and the chaos surrounding him to voters who ignored him.

However, some of Biden’s allies balked at the idea, suggesting that Trump has already done too much to politicize his legal affairs and that Biden — if he wants to gain voters’ attention — would do well to intervene.

Tuesday’s event is an endorsement of the second approach.

“The whole media is camped out here, day in and day out,” campaign communications director Michael Tyler said, explaining the decision to reporters outside a lower Manhattan courthouse.

In addition to De Niro, who recently narrated an ad attacking Trump, two police officers were in the US Capitol on January 6, 2021 and were attacked by pro-Trump rioters: Michael Fanon and Harry Dunn.

“In the end, this election is about Donald Trump and his vision of the office of the President of the United States, not as a public servant who answers to the elected and the people who elected him, but as a dictatorship. , who answers and “he only serves himself,” Fanon said.

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Trump’s top advisers Jason Miller, Steven Cheung and Carolyn Leavitt spoke to reporters immediately after the press conference. Miller attacked the two-time Oscar winner.
“The best they can do is present a washed-up actor,” Miller said.

He echoed Trump’s attacks on Judge Juan Mercant as “corrupt” and “conflicted” and argued the case was “absolute garbage.”

After the investigation, President Biden’s team sees an opportunity to be more aggressive in portraying Trump as a threat to democracy ahead of the June 27 CNN debate.

In everything from the campaign’s ads to the message and rhetoric from the president to the development of the campaign’s infrastructure, a person familiar with the campaign’s thinking said, once Trump’s investigation — and its aggressive media coverage — Biden’s team recognizes it. Before November, the American people will have more space and opportunities to make their case.

Biden campaign officials are still grappling with the reality, he said, that a significant portion of the population still doesn’t see that the choice will be between Biden and Trump on Election Day.

While the campaign will have to calibrate its messaging and strategy based on how Trump’s trial pans out, he stressed that ultimately, the thrust of its case against the former president won’t change whether Trump is found guilty or not. But still.

De Niro introduced the main theme of that message on Tuesday. He attacked the former president as “a tyrant” and “a coward” and told reporters that, as New Yorkers, they tolerated the former real estate mogul as “just another despicable real estate swindler, a big shot, a cheap playboy.” He sneaks into the newspapers.

He said the stakes of the November election prompted him to join the campaign for a new ad released last week.

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“That’s why I wanted to get involved and get involved with the new Biden-Harris ad, because it shows Trump’s violence and reminds us that he will use violence against anyone who stands in the way of his megalomania and greed,” D. Nero said. “Do you think Trump ever got punched or taken? This guy ran and hid in the White House bunker when there were protesters outside, he didn’t get blood on his hands, no, he’s not dirty. He leads the mafia to do his dirty work with his hands.

Actor Robert De Niro has vowed that he thought it was “important” to appear at the door of a New York court for former President Donald Trump’s criminal trial this Tuesday, and that it happened at the president’s request. Team Joe Biden.

“The Biden administration asked me to go, and I thought, ‘OK, I’m going.’ Yeah, I’ll say something,” he told CNN before the start of the Tribeca Film Festival.

He added: “I don’t want to do this, but I don’t know any other way to deal with it.”

De Niro has long been critical of Trump. On Tuesday, the actor appeared outside court but did not want to discuss specific aspects of the trial, the president’s team stressed to CNN.

“If this guy gets back in, it’s going to be hell,” De Niro told CNN on Tuesday afternoon. “It will be four years, there will be fights, there will be fights, there will be civil strife… I would like to think that the country will be straightened out, but at what cost by this madman.”

As CNN reported on Friday, the Biden campaign effectively kicked off the next phase by launching a new ad called “Snapped” narrated by De Niro.

“We know that Trump was out of control when he was president,” De Niro says of a scene of Trump behind the decision desk. “Then he lost the 2020 election and went broke.”

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The ad describes Trump trying “desperately” to cling to power as the phrases “dictator” and “end the constitution” flash across the screen while showing footage of the January 6, 2021 uprising. Not chosen, it would be a bloody mess.

Fanon, a former Washington Metropolitan police officer who was assaulted during the January 6 riots, “is representative of the hundreds of police officers assaulted that day by Donald Trump supporters who were inspired by his lies,” and continues to encourage my fellow Americans to turn on their fellow Americans and attack police officers to this day.

Dunn, a former U.S. Capitol Police officer, called Trump “the greatest threat to our democracy today and to the safety of communities across the country.”

“It has encouraged and continues to encourage political violence. We are still being called traitors today. We were all called traitors on January 6 for doing our jobs,” Dunn said. “Political violence is never acceptable, but you have a presidential candidate who defends it, promotes it, supports it. We cannot allow it.”

On Tuesday, Biden’s re-election campaign announced it would hire police officers who worked at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 to campaign for Biden in battleground states in the coming weeks.

Sergeant Aquilino Connell and Officer Danny Hodges also plan to join Dunn in telling voters that Trump represents a threat to democracy and their basic rights as Americans. Dunn and Connell were injured during the attack on the Capitol and later retired from the Capitol Police. Hodges continues to work with the Washington Metropolitan Police Department.

— CNN’s Kate Sullivan and Marianne Garvey contributed to this report.