Michael Goodwin

Michael Goodwin


Joe Biden faces potentially nightmarish June swoon with his re-election hopes fading

‘APRIL is the cruelest month,” poet T. S. Eliot famously declared.

Joe Biden might beg to differ.

June is shaping up as a potential nightmare for the 81-year-old president. 

His re-election, his legacy and son Hunter Biden’s freedom are all on the line over the course of a month-long gantlet. 

And he has only himself to blame. 

Biden’s surprising demand last week that Donald Trump debate him twice, with the first face-off in June, underscores his desperation to get his campaign back on track.

His insistence on a televised showdown in a month already crammed with high-stakes events reveals that Biden knows his bid for a second term is in deep trouble. 

Trailing in most if not all of the swing states and getting disastrous ratings from voters, he’s ready to put his chips on the table five months before the election.

Trump agreed to both debates, with the first scheduled for June 27 and the second for Sept. 10. 

It’s rare that a president’s schedule drives headlines, but there is nothing ordinary about Biden’s lineup for June.

It looks like a formula for disaster. 

Consider that Hunter Biden is scheduled to face felony gun and tax charges in two separate trials next month. 

The chance that his son could end up in prison, aides say, is never far from the president’s mind.

“Psychological torment” is how a Politico report described what Biden is experiencing. 

It quoted aides as saying that although the president speaks to Hunter daily, the White House staff tip-toes around the topic out of “fear of an angry rebuke or an icy stare.” 

In a mood 

It surely doesn’t help the president’s mood that both cases are being brought by his own Justice Department despite Biden saying publicly that “my son did nothing wrong.” 

It’s also worth noting that Attorney General Merrick Garland corrupted his office to slow-walk the cases and tried every trick in the book to make them go away.

The same officials also oversaw two suspect federal prosecutions of Trump and secretly helped guide unprecedented state prosecutions of the former president in Georgia and New York. 

So shed no tears for Biden and his family.

He abused his power every step of the way and set a new low by weaponizing law enforcement. 

Hunter Biden’s gun trial, which is set to start June 3, will be held in Delaware.

Although the location makes the case something of a Biden home game, the damning facts are not in dispute. 

The federal trial judge, Maryellen Noreika, said it’s “not a terribly complicated case” when she dismissed the latest defense request for a delay. 

The first son signed a federal form swearing he was not using drugs when he admitted elsewhere he was addicted to cocaine, making conviction highly likely.

Given that his abandoned laptop has pictures of him holding the gun while high on drugs, and messages about how his lover at the time — his dead brother’s widow — threw the weapon in a trash can, an acquittal would be shocking. 

The tax trial is scheduled for June 20 in California, although a federal judge on Friday scheduled a hearing on Hunter’s bid to delay it.

The case involves his alleged failure to pay at least $1.4 million in federal taxes over several years at a time when he was raking in millions from foreign paymasters, including in China and Ukraine. 

Although it’s unlikely prosecutors will make any references to the president, there will be no escaping the shadow of the fact that he was “the big guy” slated to get a secret 10 percent cut of some payments. 

If that weren’t stress enough, the president, who often appears tired, confused and unsteady, is already committed to two European trips in June, one for the 80th anniversary of D-Day in France and another for a G-7 Summit in Italy. 

He’s also sure to continue making one- and two-day domestic trips to raise money and create photo-ops with selected voters in battleground states.

A key focus is on trying to halt the migration of black voters to Trump, which is why he’s scheduled to give a Sunday commencement speech at Morehouse College in Atlanta. 

All of which makes late June a curious time for a debate, even given that the president is reading the same polls as everybody else and understands Trump is building a commanding lead. 

It would be, by far, the earliest presidential debate in history, with those sponsored by the official presidential debate commission always held in September and October. 

That was the plan for this year, but Biden sidelined the commission with his own timetable. 

Some of his terms, including no studio audience and no third-party candidates, reflect his bid to tailor events in ways that eliminate Trump’s advantages.

The former president, for example, does far better with studio audiences, and the leading third-party candidate, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., is expected to pull more votes from Biden than Trump. 

There’s been some media speculation that Biden opted for a June debate so there would be time for the party to replace him at its August convention if he hasn’t turned the tide by then. 

Much ado 

That’s a possible scenario, but far from the most likely.

Reports that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and other Democratic leaders have been promising big donors that either Biden or VP Kamala Harris would get off the ticket have been swirling for months, but nothing has happened. 

Making such a change at the convention, especially involving a sitting president, would be the ultimate Hail Mary and only make sense if there were a first-rate replacement available.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has been running a shadow campaign, but he’s nobody’s idea of a dream alternative. 

More likely, the push for a June debate stems from pragmatic thinking rather than dramatic.

It allows enough time before the convention for Biden to improve his poll numbers and punch holes in Trump’s momentum. 

In that sense, the convention matters because it represents the best chance to reset the race for the stretch run, which will be possible if the race is close.

So Biden’s job between now and then is to stop Trump’s rise. 

Because the president’s policies are unpopular, his only option for the debate is to go scorched-earth negative on Trump.

Look for him to be stuck on a loop of abortion, Jan. 6, threats to democracy and racism. 

He’s also trying to use the power of the presidency, with the White House again talking up a plan to restrict border crossings with an executive order. 

Similar rumblings came and went before, so even if Biden is serious this time, it’s too little, too late to change the grim reality after he’s already let in some 10 million illegal newcomers. 

Count on Trump to use the debate to remind voters of those numbers.