President Joe Biden speaks in the Cross Hall of the...

President Joe Biden speaks in the Cross Hall of the White House Monday, July 1, 2024, in Washington. Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden warned Monday that a Supreme Court ruling granting presidents broad immunity from prosecution would make an unchecked Republican Donald Trump “more emboldened to do whatever he wants” if he regains the White House in November’s election.

Biden, under intense pressure after his disastrous debate performance against Trump last week, urged Americans to think carefully about their election decision and signaled he had no intention of dropping out of the race.

Criticizing the decision by the court’s conservative majority — which all but guarantees Trump will not face trial in Washington ahead of the November election over his actions during the violent riot on Jan. 6, 2021 — Biden said it now fell to the American people “to do what the courts should have been willing to do but will not.

"The American people have to render judgment about Donald Trump’s behavior.”

Biden's efforts to reset his campaign following the debate, which spooked donors and stirred up major Democratic anxiety, has been looking a lot like his past attempts to keep the focus squarely on Trump's misdeeds and shortcomings. During his brief remarks Monday, he made no mention of last week's debate or his performance, and did not take questions, delivering an unusually political message from the White House.

“I know I will respect the limits of presidential power as I have for the three-and-a-half years, but any president, including Donald Trump, will now be free to ignore the law,” Biden said.

Biden seemed relaxed and confident, striking a clear and crisp tone and looking tanned and rested — all of which was in stark contrast to his often halting performance during last week’s debate, when his face was notably pale. The president also had the benefit of a teleprompter for his remarks about the court, something he didn’t have while facing off with Trump.

President Joe Biden arrives to speak in the Cross Hall...

President Joe Biden arrives to speak in the Cross Hall of the White House Monday, July 1, 2024, in Washington. Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin

There have been private discussions in Biden's camp on what more the president could do to counteract what Americans saw during the debate, when he gave convoluted answers, trailed off at times, occasionally stared blankly and sounded raspy-voiced. The talks have included questions about whether Biden should be seen more in public through town-hall-style events or interviews and press conferences, which he has generally avoided during his time in office.

But most in his orbit are waiting on more substantial polling to come back in order to assess how bad the damage was before altering course in any substantial way. That's according to four Biden advisers who were not authorized to speak publicly about internal discussions and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

Biden's team may not alter anything at all. Many think — or hope — the fraught moment will pass, particularly after Biden's family encouraged him to stay in the race and keep fighting during a huddle at Camp David on Sunday.

Campaign officials said Monday they had nothing to announce on new events. They said Biden would be campaigning as he has been, hitting battleground states as he has already been doing for months.

President Joe Biden, center right, and first lady Jill Biden,...

President Joe Biden, center right, and first lady Jill Biden, right, arrive on Marine One with granddaughters Natalie Biden, from left, and Finnegan Biden, at East Hampton Airport, Saturday, June 29, 2024, in East Hampton, N.Y. Credit: AP/Evan Vucci

An ad released Monday was called “I Know” using clips from Biden's post-debate North Carolina rally, where he said, “When you get knocked down, you get back up.”

Quentin Fulks, Biden’s principal deputy campaign manager, put the focus on Trump in a call with reporters, saying, “When you do see President Biden out on the trail, he will be talking about the reasons why Americans should be scared of Donald Trump, as he has been for months.”

Even before the debate, the age of the 81-year-old Democratic president had been a liability with voters, and the prime-time faceoff put the issue front-and-center before perhaps the largest audience he will have in the four months until Election Day. CNN, which held the debate, said more than 51 million people watched.

“I think his age was baked in, to a large degree, and I know he can do better than he did on Thursday night. I expected to see better. I’m not sure other voters did,” said Jennifer Palmieri, a White House communications director during the Obama administration and a spokesperson for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign.

She added that, tactically, the campaign has responded by promoting Biden’s strong speech in North Carolina on Friday and by continuing to post strong fundraising numbers. Palmieri also said Biden might also want to sit for more interviews to continue to show that the debate was an anomaly.

“Their focus needs to be on getting him in front of voters that matter the most, and more interviews should be part of that. Don’t be like Trump in your own little universe,” she said. “For now, we’re early, but what they’re doing is working."

There's a sense that voters may now be watching Biden more closely for signs that show one way or another whether his debate debacle was a blip — whether he is, as he says, capable of doing the job.

Alan Kessler, a lawyer and member of the Biden campaign’s national finance team, has spent days calming jittery donors, telling them what he says he has personally witnessed when he's seen the president — that he's “lucid, strong as he's always been.”

“To the extent it’s necessary, I’m reassuring people,” Kessler said.

Biden expressed interest in doing at least one interview. At a Saturday fundraiser in East Hampton, New York, Biden said he had spoken with the broadcaster Howard Stern, who had interviewed him in April, where he answered open-ended questions mostly about his early years.

The president told the crowd he was ready for another sit-down with Stern, saying: “I had a great time on his show. And I’m actually going to take a chance in going back.”

Meanwhile, senior Biden campaign officials, including Fulks, Jen O’Malley Dillon and others, kept up damage control, holding a Monday evening call with roughly 500 members of the campaign's National Finance Committee and other donors, according to a person familiar with the private call who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity to discuss it.

They downplayed any potential fallout from the debate, blamed the media for concerns over his popularity and reiterated that Biden was fit to serve. But the call did little to quell concerns from many of the backers, the person said.

Campaign officials have said there was no discussion “whatsoever” of Biden exiting the race nor of any staff shakeups following the debate.

The window of opportunity for that is shrinking anyway. The Democratic National Committee has announced that it will use a virtual roll call to formally make him the nominee before the convention begins in Chicago on Aug. 19. But when that will happen and what it will look like is still unclear.

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