WASHINGTON — With a verdict in Donald Trump’s hush money trial set to come as soon as next week, President Joe Biden’s campaign is exploring a shift to a new, more aggressive posture, according to two people familiar with the strategy. 

Regardless of the outcome, top Biden campaign officials plan to stress to voters that Trump will be on the ballot in the fall and that no potential court proceeding will change that fact. 

A person familiar with the discussions summed it up this way: “Donald Trump’s legal troubles are not going to keep him out of the White House. Only one thing will do that: voting this November for Joe Biden.” 

If Trump is found guilty at his state trial in New York City, the Biden campaign will also consider whether to brand him as a “convicted felon,” this person added. “It’s an open question.”

Campaign officials are also weighing whether to amplify that kind of messaging with key surrogates on the airwaves or an ad buy or both. Those conversations are ongoing, as well, the second source said.

“The only way to truly stop Trump is to defeat him once and for all at the ballot box and not expect a conviction to play a huge role,” said Jim Messina, a Democratic strategist who was a campaign manager for former President Barack Obama. “The campaign’s job is to remind voters why they already voted Trump out and convince them to turn out for Biden by making this a choice between two vastly different candidates. 

“Yes, one of them could soon be a convicted criminal, but that doesn’t matter as much to voters as the issues that directly impact their lives,” he added. 

The campaign views the conclusion of the trial as one of the campaign’s inflection points, one at which the minute-by-minute sideshow of courtroom drama has concluded and the time for voters to focus on what’s at stake in November has arrived, one of the sources said. 

Even now, with planning for the parties’ summer nominating conventions well underway, some voters still say they aren’t convinced it will be Trump and Biden on the ballot. But Biden aides say they believe that, once the trial ends, the reality of the race will be much clearer to the electorate, especially as the two candidates prepare for the first general election debate, which is scheduled for June 27, and other big moments, like the Republican convention in July and the Democratic convention a month later. 

The Biden team expects to send a message if Trump is acquitted or there is a hung jury that voters shouldn’t wait for the outcome of his other legal issues to be determinative, either. The Biden team believes that Trump will be the nominee and that nothing in the legal realm would change that. 

The specter of Trump’s legal travails and the nonstop media coverage around them have also made it difficult for Biden and campaign messaging to break through, said Jennifer Palmieri, a longtime Democratic strategist. The trial’s conclusion, she said, offers Biden and his campaign an opportunity to engage with voters who have been tuning out or are still unconvinced that Trump would truly be the Republican nominee. 

“You’re going to look at the race and you’re going to look at President Biden differently when you understand that the only way to prevent Trump from being president is for Biden to win,” Palmieri said. 

Throughout the multiweek case in Manhattan, the Biden campaign and even Biden himself have only occasionally commented on Trump’s time in court. 

For the most part, Biden has been careful about directly commenting on the trial, evading the danger of playing into Trump’s narrative that his legal issues amount to election interference from the Biden administration.

But he made a splash last week when, in a video posted to social media, he agreed to debate Trump and then mused, “I hear you’re free on Wednesdays.” Biden was referring to Trump’s courtroom schedule, which had allowed a day off each Wednesday. The line was widely shared across social media platforms, and the campaign started selling T-shirts with it.   

The Biden campaign poked fun at the trial in broader strokes, amplifying memes about Trump’s possibly having nodded off in court. At one point, the campaign put out a news release with the headline “After Stormy Abortion Ban Coverage, Trump Poll Memo Attempts to Hush Panic.” 

The campaign’s planned approach to the end of Trump’s criminal trial echoes how Biden’s team handled a different sort of trial — the first of Trump’s two impeachments, which went to trial in January 2020. As candidate Biden was struggling to break through ahead of the first Democratic nominating contests, he sought to underscore that as then-President Trump was on a path toward acquittal, it put the onus on Democrats to nominate someone who could win in November. 

“The die has been cast here. I just have to beat him in the general election,” Biden said in the final days of the 2020 Iowa caucuses campaign. 

A senior Biden campaign official said that the campaign had begun to build momentum after his State of the Union address in March and the weekslong campaign blitz that followed but that it was stalled as the focus turned toward Trump’s legal drama in New York. The official even made a handcuffed gesture in describing the impact it has had on the campaign since the trial started in mid-April. 

Biden’s campaign had worked to take full advantage of the rare off days during the proceedings to drive the narrative. 

Palmieri argued that if there is a conviction, Biden would have an opening to make an entirely different argument that leans on democracy. 

“They can say … a jury of his peers convicted Donald Trump of a crime and that would do grave damage to the standing of the United States if voters elect a president after Americans found him guilty of a crime,” she said. “That’s a big statement about the state of American democracy.”