Amid Trump 24/7, Biden focuses on business as usual
President applauds Finland entering NATO, worries AI could be a threat
Amid the frenzy over former President Donald Trump's arraignment, the White House was trying to continue with business as usual, even if no one watching cable or network news was paying attention Tuesday.
President Joe Biden met with his science and technology advisers at the White House as Trump was appearing in a Manhattan courtroom. He did not entertain questions from reporters about the charges against his predecessor and possible future rival.
Biden thanked members of the council for attending the in-person meeting, and when a reporter asked whether artificial intelligence is dangerous, the president responded, “It remains to be seen. Could be.”
He added, “Social media has already shown us the harm the technology can do without the right safeguards in place. As I said in the State of the Union address to Congress, Congress needs to pass bipartisan privacy legislation that would impose strict limits on personal tech companies and all these things."
Wall-to-wall television coverage of the former president and current 2024 candidate’s trip from his Manhattan residence to the courthouse for his arrest and arraignment ran throughout White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre’s press briefing, on a day when the current administration had plenty of good news.
Most notably, the Trump arraignment came the same day that Finland, a country that for years famously sought neutrality between Russia and the West, formally ascended to NATO, with the Finnish flag being raised at the NATO headquarters in Brussels.
“When Putin launched his brutal war of aggression against the people of Ukraine, he thought he could divide Europe and NATO. He was wrong,” Biden said in a statement. “Today, we are more united than ever. And together — strengthened by our newest ally Finland — we will continue to preserve transatlantic security, defend every inch of NATO territory, and meet any and all challenges we face.”
Aid for Ukraine, drinking water
The Pentagon on Tuesday announced the latest drawdown of funds from the bipartisan package of aid to Ukraine. The newest announcement outlined $2.1 billion spent on “a significant package of air defense capabilities,” as well as $500 million on other support, including ammunition for HIMARS rocket systems.
“It is the 35th time the administration has authorized a use of presidential drawdown authorities to send much-needed assistance to Ukraine to meet its immediate battlefield needs,” Jean-Pierre told reporters. “President Biden's commitment to supporting Ukraine is clear. We will continue to work with our allies and partners around the world to support Ukraine as they defend their democracy and to impose costs on Russia as it continues its unconscionable, unprovoked war of choice.”
EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan, meanwhile, was in Rockford, Ill., to announce $6.5 billion in funding to upgrade drinking water systems as part of last year’s infrastructure law. He was joined by officials including Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin.
“Thankfully, with the help of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, almost $330 million is being brought home to Illinois to confront a monumental task: to ensure our communities know and trust their water is safe to drink,” the Illinois Democrat said. “Rockford will finally be able to implement their plans to improve the lives of their residents, and I look forward to collaborating with my colleagues to deliver more federal funding to communities like them.”
The president, first lady and numerous administration officials have been on the road highlighting funding and benefits from the legislative agenda that became law through the first two years of Biden’s presidency. Biden himself was at a Minnesota plant run by engine manufacturer Cummins on Monday, as the company announced more than $1 billion would be committed to expansion in several states.
The visit to Minnesota made front-page news in papers across the Gopher State, even as the cable news channels were fixated on the travels of Trump from Mar-a-Lago to New York City.
But the White House is not weighing in on the legal proceedings against Trump, despite the unprecedented nature of significant charges being brought against a former president.
“When it comes to a criminal investigation like this that is ongoing, we are just not going to comment. We're not going to interfere. We're not going to politically interfere from here. And we've been consistent. We've been very consistent,” Jean-Pierre said.