Quiet Biden presidency confronts noisy world: The Note

The TAKE with Rick Klein

Amid searing and sometimes chaotic events, the story out of the White House of late has been what President Joe Biden isn’t saying as much as what he is.

Last week, it was what the president wasn’t saying publicly about bloody clashes in the Middle East. This week, it’s what Biden isn’t saying to influence tense negotiations over issues that are central to his campaign promises and his governing agenda.

On Tuesday, the president largely left it to members of the Floyd family and their attorneys to characterize an Oval Office meeting held on the anniversary of George Floyd’s death. The bully pulpit was quiet, with a paper statement from Biden praising “the good-faith efforts from Democrats and Republicans to pass a meaningful bill out of the Senate.”

The White House is characterizing his approach as a way to give Capitol Hill negotiating space. But it rankles some on both the left and the right — for different, though related, reasons.

PHOTO: President Joe Biden speaks to reporters upon his departure from the White House in Washington, May 25, 2021.

On infrastructure, Republican senators are not-too-subtly suggesting that Biden’s team is going back on the president’s private words to them, per ABC News’ Trish Turner and Allison Pecorin.

“The president will not be surprised at the more outlined and specific offer that he is going to receive,” Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., said of the GOP counter-proposal coming Thursday.

Some of what is making the Biden presidency notable is its contrasts to what came before it. Diplomacy that is diplomatic and putting real faith in Congress to work toward solutions — not to mention staying out of the immediate news cycle — are just part of what makes normal feel abnormal.

The RUNDOWN with Averi Harper

While much of her family was meeting with the president at the White House to mark her brother George Floyd’s death, Bridgett Floyd publicly pushed Biden to work harder to get the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act passed.

“I was going to D.C. for Biden to sign a bill, Biden has not signed that bill, Biden broke a promise,” said Bridgett Floyd during a rally in Minneapolis.

She later added, “My message to the president: get your people in order.”

PHOTO: Philonise Floyd, the brother of George Floyd, talks with reporters surrounded by other family members after meeting with President Joe Biden at the White House, May 25, 2021, in Washington, D.C.

Biden issued a statement on Floyd’s death, in part, addressing ongoing police reform legislation negotiations. It made no mention of the deadline he imposed — and Congress has missed — to pass the legislation. And even amid criticism that he’s taking a hands-off role as it relates to police reform, Biden used tepid language to call for its passage.

“It’s my hope they will get a bill to my desk quickly,” wrote Biden of the ongoing negotiations.

Rep. Karen Bass, one of the key negotiators on police reform, admitted that the White House is “not directly involved in any negotiations,” in an interview with ABC News congressional correspondent Rachel Scott.

For many, the White House’s lack of involvement in negotiations will call Biden’s commitment to reform into question.

The TIP with Meg Cunningham

The controversial partisan audit in Arizona, after a two-week pause, is off to a rocky restart.

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors wrote last week asking the Senate and its contractors to preserve all documents and communications related to the audit for potential use in future litigation.

Wake TSI, the information technology and cybersecurity company handling the processes to hand count Maricopa’s 2.1 million ballots, pulled out of the audit on Tuesday, audit officials told ABC News. The processes will now be handled by StratTech, a subcontractor for Wake TSI. Audit officials said no processes will change. It is unclear if StratTech has any election auditing experience, according to local reports.

PHOTO: Maricopa County ballots cast in the 2020 general election are examined and recounted by contractors working for Florida-based company, Cyber Ninjas at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix, May 6, 2021.

Later Tuesday, the House and Senate Appropriations committees voted to strip Secretary of State Katie Hobbs — who has been outspoken about her concerns surrounding the legitimacy of the audit — of the ability to defend Arizona in litigation related to elections. That power goes to the attorney general.

The change was introduced as an amendment on the state’s budget, which appears to be carrying a number of election-related changes that resemble other restrictive bills introduced earlier in the legislative session. Hobbs referred to the bill as “unjustifiable” and said it was a clear play in “partisan politics.”


ABC News’ “Start Here” Podcast. Wednesday morning’s episode features ABC News Medical Unit coordinating producer Sony Salzman, who breaks down Moderna’s data for its vaccine in 12- to 15-year-olds. ABC News senior Investigative reporter Aaron Katersky tells us about a special grand jury impaneled to investigate the Trump Organization in New York. And ABC News chief national correspondent Matt Gutman reports from Israel, where Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with both Israeli and Palestinian leaders amid the ongoing cease-fire. http://apple.co/2HPocUL


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The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the day’s top stories in politics. Please check back tomorrow for the latest.

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