June 24th, 2024

Biden campaign sends allies De Niro and first responders to Trump’s NY trial to put focus on Jan. 6

By Colleen Long And Zeke Miller, The Associated Press on May 28, 2024.

FILE - Robert De Niro attends the 15th annual Tribeca Festival Artists Dinner hosted by CHANEL at Balthazar, June 13, 2022, in New York. President Joe Biden's campaign on Tuesday showed up outside former President Donald Trump's New York City criminal hush money trial in an effort to refocus the race on the Jan. 6 2021 Capitol insurrection. Biden's team, which had largely ignored the trial since it began six weeks ago, was looking to capitalize on its drama-filled closing moments, sending actor Robert De Niro and some of the first responders at the Capitol that day. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, file)

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Joe Biden’s campaign on Tuesday showed up outside former President Donald Trump’s New York City criminal hush money trial with actor Robert De Niro and a pair of former police officers in an effort to refocus the presidential race on the Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol insurrection.

It was a sharp about-face for Biden’s team, which had largely ignored the trial since it began six weeks ago and is now looking to capitalize on its drama-filled closing moments, sending the “Goodfellas” actor and the first responders who were at the Capitol on Jan. 6. A top Biden adviser said they weren’t there to talk about the trial, rather to exploit the large media focus on the legal proceedings.

“We’re not here today because of what’s going on over there,” Biden campaign communication director Michael Tyler told reporters, gesturing toward the courthouse. “We’re here today because you all are here.”

The New York trial is the first of four criminal trials for Trump, likely the only one before the November election. There are two others directly related to the Republican’s efforts to undo his 2020 loss to Biden: A federal case in Washington is related to his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, and a state case in Georgia accuses him of election interference. He has pleaded not guilty in those cases.

The Biden campaign last week released a new ad that was narrated by De Niro sharply criticizing Trump’s presidency and plans if he’s reelected.

“I don’t mean to scare you. No, wait, maybe I do mean to scare you,” De Niro told reporters. “If Trump returns to the White House, you can kiss these freedoms goodbye that we all take for granted.”

The actor cast himself as the true New Yorker and mocked Trump’s history of sometimes-unsuccessful business ventures and self-promotion, saying Trump was looking to “destroy” the city.

“We New Yorkers used to tolerate him when he was just another crappy real estate hustler masquerading as a big shot,” De Niro said. “I love this city. I don’t want to destroy it. Donald Trump wants to destroy not only the city but the country, and, eventually, he could destroy the world.”

Former Washington, D.C., police officer Michael Fanone and former Capitol police officer Harry Dunn spoke of their personal experiences on Jan. 6, with Fanone describing his injuries suffered at the hands of the mob of Trump supporters seeking to halt Congress’ certification of Biden’s 2020 presidential victory.

“I came here today to remind Americans of what Donald Trump is capable of and the violence that he unleashed on all of Americans on Jan. 6, 2021,” Fanone said.

The two former officers were also witnesses during a congressional investigation of the Jan. 6, 2021, riot. Hundreds of law enforcement officers were beaten and bloodied in the attack by Trump supporters, who descended after a rally and smashed into the Capitol while Trump remained silent for hours.

“Americans need to wake up. This is not a drill,” said Harry Dunn, a former Capitol police officer who ran unsuccessfully for office in Maryland.

“We can’t count on these institutions to stop Donald Trump,” he added. “It’s going to take us Americans at the ballot box to defeat him once and for all.”

Trump’s aides held their own press conference after the Democrats concluded, with adviser Jason Miller suggesting that the Biden team’s presence validated Trump’s contention that his criminal issues were “all politics.”

“If you don’t think this is politics, why did the Democrats wheel out a retread like Robert De Niro,” he said.

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