Biden warns against Trump’s ‘monarchy’ on July 4 while ex-president gleefully watches the chaos

President Joe Biden’s struggling debate performance was met with immediate demands for him to step down, and the White House and Democratic officials have spent the last week scrambling to respond to an avalanche of questions about the 81-year-old president’s health and future.

It’s been an apparently welcome diversion for Donald Trump and his campaign, keeping media attention away from his own streak of unintelligible public statements, questions about his mental fitness, and an off-the-rails agenda that just a few days ago called for “televised military tribunals” for a former congresswoman.

He’s kept a relatively low profile, for him. He gave a handful of radio interviews and doesn’t have any public appearances on his schedule until a rally on July 9. A stealthily recorded post-debate video from his New Jersey golf course shows him calling Biden “that old broken down pile of c**p.” On his Truth Social, he wished a happy Fourth of July to the president who “choked like a dog”.

But he appears content to let his Democratic rivals duke out their political future. “Chaos is our friend,” a person close to Trump told CNN. Trump’s senior advisers Chris LaCivita and Susie Wiles issued a statement on Wednesday welcoming the “Total Collapse of the Democrat Party.”

Biden and his campaign are now using the Fourth of July holiday to shift the discussion to Trump’s antidemocratic threats — and how the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Constitution gives a potential President Trump authoritative control of the presidency — and to underscore the stakes of the election.

“This July Fourth, Donald Trump Wants to Make America a Monarchy Again,” the Biden campaign warned in an email on Thursday.

President Joe Biden appears at Medal of Honor ceremony at the White House on July 3. (Getty Images)
President Joe Biden appears at Medal of Honor ceremony at the White House on July 3. (Getty Images)

“When Donald Trump fantasizes about getting revenge on his political opponents, openly campaigns on being a dictator on day one, and encourages and excuses the political violence on January 6, we must believe him,” according to the message.

“Especially when the Supreme Court’s latest ruling removes one of the last remaining checks on him doing exactly that,” the campaign added.

In scripted remarks outside the White House for a Fourth of July event for military families on Thursday night, the president said: “We must look at ourselves and ask the question, will we stand for freedom again? Will we stand for democracy? Will we stand together as Americans? I believe we will, and we can.”

“I was in a World War I cemetery in France, and ... the former president, didn’t want to go and be up there — which I probably shouldn’t have said,” Biden said during his remarks, prompting some laughter.

“Anyway, we gotta just remember who the hell we are,” he said. “We’re the United States of America.”

The June 27 debate arrived smack in the middle of a series of rulings from the Supreme Court that were celebrated by Republican officials and right-wing legal groups, including a decision that shields Trump from some criminal prosecution and grants presidents broad immunity.

Trump hailed the court’s decision, claiming it “totally” exonerates him of any wrongdoing in the multiple criminal cases and lawsuits against him. His lawyers immediately got to work to try to overturn a 34-count guilty verdict.

Biden and Democratic officials have tried to frame the 2024 fight as one for the fate of democracy itself.

Another Fourth of July message from the Democratic National Committee said that “it’s never been clearer that freedoms Americans celebrate every Independence Day are on the verge of being ripped away.”

“The only thing standing between Donald Trump and the democracy that we hold dear is President Biden – and we will spend every day between now and November ensuring that come July 4, 2025, our freedoms and democracy are protected,” press secretary Emilia Rowland said on Thursday.

Donald Trump faces Joe Biden at a presidential debate airing on CNN from Atlanta on June 27. (AFP via Getty Images)
Donald Trump faces Joe Biden at a presidential debate airing on CNN from Atlanta on June 27. (AFP via Getty Images)

Trump has tried to dismiss the idea that Biden could exit the race, but his campaign has started to attack Vice President Kamala Harris as both an incompetent candidate and a serious contender. “Vote Republican. Stop Kamala,” one recent ad says.

“It’s very hard for anybody else to come into the race,” Trump said in an interview with Virginia-based talk radio host John Reid on Thursday.

“Many people are saying after last night’s performance that Joe Biden is leaving the race, but the fact is I don’t believe that,” he said at a campaign rally the day after the debate. “It’s hard to believe, but Crooked Joe Biden polls better than those people.”

Meanwhile, powerful right-wing legal groups are exploring “pre-election litigation” in battleground states in the hopes of preventing Biden from being removed from the ballot, should he withdraw.

An effort led by the Heritage Foundation — the architects of the Project 2025 plan for a future Trump presidency — is expected to fire off lawsuits to “make the process difficult and perhaps unsuccessful” if Democrats switch up their nominee.