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Historians privately warn Biden that America’s democracy is teetering

Biden has been using outside experts to help him work through his approach to multiple crises facing his presidency. Biden, at these tabletop sessions, often spends hours asking questions and testing assumptions, participants say. Biden faces isolation that is endemic to presidency, some Democrats say has been worsened by the coronavirus pandemic, which restricted visitors through much of the first year of his presidency, and by the insular quality of Biden’s inner circle, made up of staffers who have worked with him for decades. Former U.S. ambassador to Russia under President Barack Obama briefed Biden with other experts before the Russian invasion of Ukraine and before the president's 2021 meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva. White House says the president “values hearing from a wide range of experts

The historians Biden has invited to the White House generally take a longer view, placing his presidency in the context of America’s path since its founding. Biden has signaled that he has thought about what makes some presidencies more successful than others. The group that gathered last week was part of a regular effort by presidential historians to brief presidents, a practice that dates at least as far back as the Reagan administration. Most of the experts in attendance have been outspoken in recent months about the threat they see to the American democratic project, after the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6 and the denial by some Republicans of the 2020 election results and the efforts of election deniers to seek state office. Biden is 78 and has seen nine presidents up close, starting with Richard M. Nixon

Historian Michael Beschloss, author of “The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln,” has voiced alarm in recent months about the state of the country. Some of the discussion focused on similarities between today’s landscape and the period leading up to World War II. Biden began his 2020 campaign by arguing that a “battle for the soul of the nation” was underway. Biden has continued to bring up such themes in his public speeches, most recently in a July address to a law enforcement group, where he criticized Trump for taking no immediate action as rioters attacked the U.S. Capitol.