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President Assails Trump for Jan. 6 Riot, Says America is at ‘Inflection Point’

January 6, 2022 by Dan McCue
President Assails Trump for Jan. 6 Riot, Says America is at ‘Inflection Point’
President Joe Biden addresses the nation from the U.S. Capitol on the anniversary of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the building. (Screen grab White House television)

WASHINGTON — Without once mentioning his predecessor by name, President Joe Biden on Thursday morning offered his strongest condemnation yet of former President Donald Trump’s role in the Jan. 6, 2021, siege on the U.S. Capitol that left at least seven people dead and more than 140 injured.

Though Biden has made passing references to Trump and his efforts to throw shade on the results of the November 2020 election and the riot that followed, the president on Thursday pulled no punches in his 25-minute speech, repudiating his predecessor and reminding Americans of how close the insurrectionists came to upending America’s two-century-old democratic system.

“He’s not just a former president, he’s a defeated former president who created and spread a web of lies … because his bruised ego matters more to him than our democracy or our Constitution.” 

“He can’t accept he lost even though … 93 United States senators, his own attorney general, his own vice president, and the governors and state officials in every battleground state have all said he lost,” Biden said.

“That’s what 81 million of you said as you voted for a new way forward,” he continued. “He’s done what no president in American history, the history of this country, has ever, ever done: He refused to accept the results of an election and the will of the American people.”

Biden delivered his remarks from Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol, becoming the first president ever to speak from that location. 

Turning to the purpose of his remarks, the observance on the one-year anniversary of the deadly riot, Biden assailed both Trump and those of his followers who breached the House side of the Capitol building after marching up Pennsylvania Avenue from a rally at which the former president urged them to “fight like hell.”

“We saw with our own eyes rioters menace these halls, threatening the life of the speaker of the house, literally erecting gallows to hang the vice president of the United States of America,” Biden said. 

“What did we not see? We didn’t see a former president, who had just rallied the mob to attack, sitting in the private dining room off the Oval Office in the White House, watching it all on television and doing nothing for hours as police were assaulted, lives at risk, the nation’s Capitol under siege,” he continued.

“This wasn’t a group of tourists. This was an armed insurrection. They weren’t looking to uphold a free and fair election. They were looking to overturn one,” Biden said. “They weren’t looking to save the cause of America, they were looking to subvert the Constitution.

“This isn’t about being bogged down in the past. It’s about making sure the past isn’t buried,” the president continued. “That’s the only way forward. That’s what great nations do. They don’t bury the truth; they face up to it.

“My fellow Americans, in life there is truth and, tragically, there are lies … conceived and spread for profit and power,” he said.

President Biden went on to say the men and women who stormed the Capitol, “and those who instigated and incited, and those who called on them to do so, held a dagger at the throat of America — at American democracy,” Biden said.

Biden added that those people “didn’t come here out of patriotism or principle.”

“They came here in rage. Not in service of America, but rather in service of one man,” Biden said, again alluding to, but not mentioning, Trump by name. 

“Those who incited the mob, the real plotters who were desperate to deny the certification of this election, defy the will of the voters … their plot was foiled,” Biden said. “Congress, Democrats and Republicans, senators and representatives, stayed. They finished the work the Constitution demanded of them and they honored their oath to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”

“You can’t love your country only when you win,” Biden said at another point in the speech. “You can’t obey the law only when it is convenient. You can’t be patriotic when you embrace and enable lies.”

On a conciliatory note, the president acknowledged “courageous men and women of the Republican party” who are “standing against those who are transforming their party … who seem no longer to want to be the party of Lincoln, Eisenhower, Reagan or the Bushes.”

“Whatever my other disagreements are with Republicans, so long as there are those who support the rule of law and not the rule of a single man, I will always seek to work together with them to find shared solutions,” Biden said. “Because as long as we have a shared belief in democracy, anything is possible. Anything.

“At this moment, we must decide what kind of nation we are going to be,” he continued. “Are we going to be a nation that accepts political violence as a norm? Are we going to be a nation where we allow partisan election officials to overturn the legally expressed will of the people? Are we going to be a nation that lives not by the light of the truth, but in the shadow of lies? We cannot allow ourselves to be that kind of nation. The way forward is to recognize the truth, to live by it.” 

But Biden soon returned to the “lies” he sought to refute, including the assertion by some Republicans that the rioters were somehow “patriots.”

“Is that what you thought as you watched the mob ransacking the Capitol, destroying property, littering, defecating in the hallway, rifling through the desks of senators and representatives, hunting down members of Congress? Patriots? Not in my view.”

On Jan. 6, 2021, Biden said, “our democracy held. We, the people, endured. We, the people, prevailed.” 

“For the first time in our history, a president had not just lost an election, he tried to prevent the peaceful transfer of power as a violent mob breached the Capitol. But they failed. They failed. And on this day of remembrance, we must make sure that such an attack never, never happens again,” he said.

Speaking before the president, Vice President Kamala Harris said young people often ask her about the state of democracy in the wake of the Jan. 6 riot and that she always answers by telling them the events of that day reflect “the dual nature of democracy — its fragility and its strength.”

The nation’s strength, she said, is its adherence to a “rule of law” and “the principle that everyone should be treated equally” by leaders chosen in free and fair elections.

“And the fragility of democracy is this: If we are not vigilant, if we do not defend it, democracy simply will not stand,” Harris said. “It will falter, and fail.”

“On Jan. 6, we all saw what our nation would look like if the forces who seek to dismantle our democracy are successful — the lawlessness, the violence, the chaos,” she continued.

“What the extremists who roamed these halls targeted was not only the lives of elected leaders. What they sought to degrade and destroy was not only a building, hallowed as it is. What they were assaulting were the institutions, the values, the ideals, that generations of Americans have marched, picketed, and shed blood to establish and defend.

“What was at stake then and now is the right to have our future decided the way the Constitution prescribes it, by we the people, all the people. We cannot let our future be decided by those bent on silencing our voices, overturning our votes, and peddling lies and misinformation,” the vice president said.

Dan can be reached at dan@thewellnews.com and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue.

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