Vindicating his election, US president Joe Biden warned that former US Prez Donald Trump’s false claims that the election was stolen from him through widespread voting fraud could unravel the rule of law and undermine future elections.
Speaking at the white-domed building a year after January 6, 2021, riot, Biden said, “We must be absolutely clear about what is true and what is a lie. Here’s the truth: A former president of the United States of America has created and spread a web of lies about the 2020 election. He’s done so because he values power over principle.”
The speech was a departure for Biden, who has spent most of his first year in office focused on pursuing his own agenda rather than looking backwards. President Joe Biden accused his predecessor Donald Trump of posing a continuing threat to American democracy in a speech on the anniversary of the deadly US Capitol attack by Trump supporters who tried to overturn his 2020 election defeat.
“One year ago today in this sacred place, democracy was attacked. Simply attacked,” Biden said. “The will of the people was under assault. The Constitution, our Constitution, faced the gravest of threats.”
Biden added that “for the first time in our history a president had not just lost the election he tried to prevent the peaceful transfer of power.” Biden condemned Trump for watching the riot on television “and doing nothing for hours.”
Four people died in the hours-long chaos, while one police officer died the day after battling rioters and four later died by suicide. Around 140 police officers were injured.
Biden’s remarks will begin a day-long series of events that will also feature House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other legislative leaders, mostly from Biden’s Democratic Party. They will highlight the lingering damage from the worst attack on the Capitol since the War of 1812.
Meanwhile, observers say they worry Trump’s false claims could make it less likely that future transfers of power will be peaceful – especially those involving closer margins than 2020, which Biden won by 7 million votes.
Trump remains highly popular among Republican voters. On Tuesday, Trump cancelled plans to mark the anniversary with a news conference, where he had been expected to repeat his false claims. He plans to speak instead on January 15 at a rally in Arizona.
Most Republican officials and officeholders have remained loyal to Trump. Even after the attack, more than half of Republican lawmakers voted against certifying his defeat, and only a handful supported his impeachment.
Some have sought to play down the attack by likening the rioters to tourists and questioning whether the assault was perpetrated by federal agents. Those who have called for accountability, including Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, have been shunned by their colleagues. The two are the only Republicans participating in a congressional investigation that has interviewed more than 300 witnesses so far, including top Trump aides.
US prosecutors have brought criminal charges against at least 725 people linked to the riot, though so far they have not charged Trump or his associates.
Democrats are using the anniversary to push a broad voting-rights bill that they say is needed to counteract Republican efforts to tighten laws at the state level. So far they have been unable to round up enough support to ensure passage in the Senate.
Republicans say Democrats are exploiting the event for partisan purposes.