President Joe Biden, speaking Thursday morning on the first anniversary of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, excoriated former President Donald Trump — without ever mentioning Trump's name — saying he "rallied the mob to attack."
"One year ago today in this sacred place, democracy was attacked," Biden said in his remarks from the Capitol's National Statuary Hall, which one year ago was overrun by protesters who marched through while waving American, Confederate, and pro-Trump flags.
"The will of the people was under assault … 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."
Trump, said Biden "has created and spread a web of lies about the 2020 election. He's done so because he values power over principal, because he sees his own interest as more important than his country's interest and America's interest and because his bruised ego matters more to him than our democracy and Constitution."
But Trump, to whom Biden repeatedly refered as the "former president of the United States," "can't accept that he lost, even though that's what 93 U.S. Senators, his own attorney general, every battleground state have all said," said Biden. "He lost. That's what 81 million of you did as you voted for a new way forward. He has done what no president in the history of this country has ever done. He refused the results of the election and the will of the American people."
Trump slammed Biden after the speech, saying in a statement that the president is "destroying our nation with insane policies of open borders, corrupt elections, disastrous energy policies, unconstitutional mandates, and devastating school closures," and accused him of "using my name today to try to further divide America."
Trump also called the speech a "distraction for the fact that Biden has completely and totally failed" in his agenda.
"Why is it that the Unselect Committee of totally partisan political hacks, whose judgment has long ago been made, not discussing the rigged Presidential Election of 2020?" Trump said. "It’s because they don’t have the answers or justifications for what happened. They got away with something, and it is leading to our Country’s destruction…the Democrats want to own this day of January 6th so they can stoke fears and divide America. I say, let them have it because America sees through their lies and polarizations."
Biden, however, said Republican supporters of Trump "no longer want to be the party of Lincoln, Eisenhower, Reagan, the Bushes."
Biden also outlined the violence of the Jan. 6 attacks, urging listeners to "close your eyes and go back to that day. What do you see?
"Rioters rampaging. Waiving for the first time in this Capitol the Confederate flag that symbol eyes the cause to destroy America, to rip us apart. Even during the civil war, that never, ever happened. But it happened here in 2021."
He also pointed out that there was a mob "breaking windows, kicking in doors, breaching the Capitol. American flags on poles being used as weapons, as spears."
"And," Biden said, "while the nation saw with its own eyes the rioters threatening the halls of Congress, threatening House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and erecting gallows to hang the vice president. What did we not see? We did not see a former president who rallied the attack."
Instead, Trump was "sitting in a private dining room off the hall of 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," said Biden.
"This wasn't a group of tourists. This was an armed insurrection. Not looking to uphold the will of the people. They were looking to deny the will of the people. Looking to overturn the election. Not looking to save the cause of the American. They were looking to subvert the Constitution."
Biden further said Trump and his supporters claim that "the insurrection in this country actually took place on Election Day, Nov. 3, 2020."
"Is that what you thought when you voted that day? Taking part in an insurrection?" he said. "Can you think of a more twisted way to look at this country and America? I cannot."
The president added that states are rewriting many voting laws after the 2020 election "not to strengthen and protect our democracy, but because the former president lost" when the "truth is that no election in American history has been more closely scrutinized or more carefully counted."
"Even before the first ballot was cast, the former president was preemptively sowing doubt about the election results," said Biden. "He built his lie over months."
Another "big lie" is that the Jan. 6 protesters are "true patriots," Biden claimed.
"Is that what you thought when you look at the mob ransacking the capitol, destroying the property, literally defecating in the hallways?" he said. "Hunting down members of Congress. Patriots? Not in my view."
Meanwhile, democracy is at risk, said Biden, and China and Russia have told him that democracy's days "are numbered."
Vice President Kamala Harris, speaking before Biden, pointed out that she was at the Capitol earlier on that day, and decried the "lawlessness, the chaos, and the violence" of the day.
"I was not only the vice president elect but also a United States senator, and I was here at the Capitol at a classified hearing with fellow members of the Senate Intelligence Committee," Harris recalled. "Hours later, the gates of the Capitol were breached. I had left, but my thoughts immediately turned not only to my colleagues but to my staff who had been forced to seek refuge in our office converting filing cabinets into barricades."
The protesters, she said, "sought to degrade and destroy [not] only a building hallowed as it is but they were assaulting the institution, the values, the ideas that generations of Americans have marched, picketed and shed blood to establish and defend. On Jan. 6, we all saw what our nation would look like if the forces who seek to dismantle our democracy are successful."
Harris added that the nation "cannot let our future be decided by those bent on silencing our voices, overturning our votes."
The vice president insisted that voting reform bills must be passed, as "elections should be free and fair."
"We cannot sit on the sidelines," Harris said. "We must unite in defense of our democracy in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and to our posterity."
She, like Biden, applauded the heroism of the Capitol Police, the D.C. Metropolitan Police, and the National Guard for answering the call on Jan. 6.
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