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What Biden’s rivals underestimate about his digital operation

Plus Trump's increasing legal problems, the GOP chairs with their fingers on the 2024 primary pulse and a special morning routine in this week’s 3 Minute Read from Jen Psaki.
"Inside with Jen Psaki"
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Don’t freak out …

Ever since the 2020 primary, there has been an incorrect perception that Joe Biden and his team are bad at digital. Because Donald Trump’s tweets were so outlandish (and inaccurate) many observers thought he was outshining and outflanking Biden. The truth is the Biden campaign actually outraised the Trump team in online small-donation donors in 2020, while creating a massive digital organizing apparatus that was more focused on person-to-person organizing than viral tweets. 

But more importantly, as Trump fought legal battles and was kicked off various social media platforms, the Biden team kept building. This is not just about online fundraising or online ads. TikTok (love it or hate it) doesn’t even allow political advertising. Biden is building an online organization that engages with supporters and encourages them to talk to one another. The Biden team previewed its plans back in December and now that the 2024 campaign is fully underway, my former colleagues tell me that’s what they have been focused on. 

President Joe Biden meets with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in the Oval Office
President Joe Biden meets with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in the Oval Office, on May 22.Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Gov. Ron DeSantis seems to want to make inroads on Twitter, even after his embarrassing failure to launch (which Team Biden was quick to zing him for). Maybe that will work. Maybe Sen. Tim Scott or Trump will become a fixture on Facebook. But they are focused on defeating each other, not on organizing the masses. And that is where the Biden digital team has an advantage. So don’t freak out about all the times Trump or his opponents trend on social this year. That alone does not win elections.

A story you should be following: Trump's legal troubles

Trump’s legal problems are certainly heating up, with two more indictments possibly dropping this summer. But it’s also becoming increasingly clear these criminal liabilities will be hanging over his head throughout the duration of the 2024 campaign, and likely afterward, too. 

The Wall Street Journal reports that special counsel Jack Smith is wrapping up his Trump Mar-a-Lago documents probe, which means an indictment may soon follow. Anthony Coley, former senior adviser to Attorney General Merrick Garland, tells us that, “based on public reporting, I would not be surprised if the Justice Department filed charges before the one-year anniversary of the search of Mar-a-Lago, Aug. 8.”

One of my NBC colleagues who closely follows the documents case says it’s extremely unlikely it would go to trial before the summer of 2024 — and while it’s impossible to predict the timing with any certainty, that means a trial could coincide with the Republican National Convention or the general election campaign itself. 

Meanwhile, Georgia prosecutor Fani Willis has signaled that the former president could face Fulton County charges in early August for his attempts to interfere in the 2020 election. That would come just as the GOP heads into its first primary debates, which Trump may or may not be a part of. 

We also learned this week that the criminal trial for Trump’s alleged hush money payments to Stormy Daniels is scheduled for March 25, 2024, which is just three weeks after Super Tuesday. 

So Trump’s schedule could get pretty crowded next year as he not only pursues the presidency but fights off potential charges that could land him in prison. I will be closely following how the timetable of Trump’s indictments and subsequent trials will overlap with the election calendar. 

Some people you should know: Chris Ager, Drew McKissick, Michael McDonald and Jeff Kaufmann

We’re officially off to the races. Earlier this week, Sen. Tim Scott announced his 2024 bid and Gov. Ron DeSantis launched his campaign with the help of Elon Musk. As the list of 2024 Republican hopefuls grows, I’ll be closely watching the GOP party chairs in the most influential states.  

DeSantis and Trump have already made a few stops in New Hampshire. DeSantis held an event there that broke the state’s fundraising record. I’ll be waiting to see where GOP chair Chris Ager’s alliance lies. 

Drew McKissick has led South Carolina Republicans since 2017. Earlier this week, at a victory convention, presidential hopefuls, including Vivek Ramaswamy and Scott, made their pitch to the state’s voters. With two presidential candidates from South Carolina, Nikki Haley and Scott, I’m interested to see who McKissick endorses.

Nevada Republican Party Chairman Michael McDonald.
Nevada Republican Party Chairman Michael McDonald in 2022.Las Vegas Review-Journal / Getty Images

In 2020, Nevada GOP chair Michael McDonald signed documents falsely asserting that Trump won the state’s six electoral votes. I’ll be interested to see which candidate he backs. 

Iowa’s GOP party chair Jeff Kaufmann will also be someone to keep an eye on. For now, he has not said who he will back, but we do know his son will serve as a senior adviser on Trump’s 2024 caucus staff. 

I’ll be watching who these chairs are meeting with, the events they are attending and, ultimately, who they endorse as the field of Republican candidates takes shape. 

Rep. Ruben Gallego’s weekend routine: 

What show are you bingeing on right now? 

Anyone with a 6-year-old in their home will know what I am talking about when I say “Sharkdog.” It’s been on repeat in my home for weeks now and has been … unexpectedly catchy? Once my son is asleep, or if he is not around, I have been catching up on “The White House Plumbers,” a series that revisits the infamous Watergate scandal. 

What’s the last book you read? 

I like to change it up so I have been going back and forth between two very different books: “Strategy and Power in Russia 1600-1914” and “Where the Crawdads Sing.”

What time do you wake up on the weekends? 

There are two things that will wake me up on the weekends: work or my son. Usually, if I don’t have some sort of work-related event or meeting I will try to sleep in, but my son always has other plans.

How do you take your coffee?

Plain and simple: two sugars.