During President Joe Biden’s trip to Europe, it seems like the specter of former President Donald Trump has been a constant companion.
There was the emphasis on the Biden administration’s internationalist bona fides as opposed to Trump’s “America First” philosophy.
“America’s back in the business of leading the world alongside nations who share our most deeply held values,” Biden said during a news conference at the end of the G-7 conference in Cornwall, England, according to ABC News.
There was the extended rant at the NATO summit in Brussels about the GOP and how it had been “vastly diminished” and that it makes up a “significant minority of the American people.”
And now we know that, had a reporter asked him about the former administration’s Department of Justice, Biden would have been prepared — because he had note cards with bullet points for various questions, apparently.
In a widely shared video from Biden’s news conference Sunday in Cornwall, the cards appear to show points he would have used if he were asked about how the Trump DOJ secretly obtained the phone records of House Democrats during a leak investigation. The matter is being investigated by the DOJ inspector general.
Joe Biden needs a flash card to remind him that he thinks everything is Trump’s fault.
How pathetic. pic.twitter.com/5SRHUDf7z5
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) June 15, 2021
The flash card — or what could be read of it — gave several canned points for Biden to use, because apparently he can’t remember his own problems with Donald Trump. Our president, ladies and gentlemen.
“Trump abused power/Trump DOJ out of control,” one read.
“Now we have to clean it up,” read another.
“I’ve made it clear this DOJ will reflect my values and principles and priorities — not Donald Trump’s.”
Biden’s hand, alas, was covering the next point, which laid out his values. “They include:” it began. The words “as co-equal” and “voting” were also visible.
One can make a few assumptions off of this, however. “[A]s co-equal” involves respecting the three co-equal branches of government as outlined by the Constitution: The executive, legislative and judicial — presumably by not requesting phone records during a leak investigation.
As for “voting,” it’s not too hard to guess at that one, considering that Biden’s speech and news conference came two days after Attorney General Merrick Garland essentially declared open season on state-level election integrity laws in a speech.
“Where we see violations we will not hesitate to act,” Garland said of the new laws, according to Fox News.
While I’d posit these are good guesses, they’re still just guesses — and, at any rate, it turned out to be a waste of card stock and toner. According to a Rev.com transcript of the news conference, the only question Biden was asked regarding Trump was how Biden had kept in place steel and aluminum tariffs imposed by the former president.
It was the final question, which meant Biden got by with this: “120 days, give me a break. Need time.” Apparently, he didn’t have a flash card for that.
This isn’t the first time Biden has been seen with the flash cards when taking questions from reporters. In fact, during his first news conference on March 25 — so long delayed that no president since Calvin Coolidge waited longer to face the media — he was also needed a cheat sheet.
Not that he necessarily got it right even then. As the U.K. Daily Mail pointed out, one of his cards read, “The United States now ranks 13th globally in infrastructure quality, down from 5th place in 2002.”
Here’s how that came out, according to the Rev.com transcript: “I still think the majority of the American people don’t like the fact that we are now ranked what, 85th in the world in infrastructure.”
Slightly later in the same answer, he corrected himself. “We have somewhere in terms of infrastructure, we rank 13th globally in infrastructure,” he said.
Biden only called on 10 reporters during that one-hour news conference, which was a farrago of rambling answers, strange allusions (“This makes Jim Crow look like Jim Eagle,” Biden said of election integrity laws) and, in one case, appeared to have a hard-drive crash:
Joe Biden’s brain just malfunctioned…? pic.twitter.com/QWUBa9v8iD
— Caleb Hull (@CalebJHull) March 25, 2021
If this is how he performs with flash cards, just imagine what news conferences would look like without them.
That’s another way Trump’s specter haunts Biden at these events. Say what you will about Trump, the man knew how to go off-script. He may have induced plenty of hand-wringing by the media, but he could improvise.
In Biden’s case, if the questions aren’t on the cards, the president merely glitches.
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