President Joe Biden on Thursday delivered what he declared to be “God’s truth” marking the first anniversary of the US Capitol uprising, the violent attack by supporters of Donald Trump has fundamentally changed Congress and raised global concerns about the future of American democracy.
Mr. Biden’s criticisms especially strained then-President Trump and his violent supporters.
“For the first time in our history, a president not only lost an election but tried to prevent a peaceful transfer of power when a violent mob invaded the Capitol,” Biden said. speak. “But they failed.”
“I’ll stand on this breach,” he announced, his voice rising.
“Democracy has been attacked,” Biden said at the Capitol. “We who suffer. We who have prevailed. ”
The president and Democrats began the day at Statuary Hall, one of several locations where a year ago rioters overran and disrupted vote counting. Biden drew a contrast between the truth of what happened and the false narratives that have emerged about the Capitol attack, including many Republicans’ continued refusal to assert that Biden had won the 2020 election.
“You and I and the world have seen it with our own eyes,” Biden said.
He asked listeners to close their eyes and recall what they saw that day, as he described scenes of violence, brutality, mobs attacking police, threatening the speaker of the House of Commons. , erecting the gallows threatening to hang the vice president – all while it was President Trump sitting at the White House watching it on TV.
“This is God’s truth about January 6, 2021,” Biden said. “They’re looking to overturn the Constitution.”
“We have to be absolutely clear about what is the truth and what is a lie. This is the truth,” he said. “The former president of the United States of America spread a web of lies about the 2020 election.”
A series of memorial events for the day will be widely attended by Democrats, in person, and most Republicans on Capitol Hill will be absent. The split is a stark reminder of the bipartisan rift, which has grown worse since hundreds of Trump supporters violently shoved police, using fists and flagpoles to break doors. Capitol records and disrupted Biden’s confirmation of victory.
While Congressional Republicans largely condemned the attack in the days that followed, most remained loyal to the former president.
Representative Liz Cheney, chairman of the House committee investigating the attack and one of the few GOP lawmakers to attend the Capitol functions, warned that “the threat continues.” Trump, she said, “continues to make similar claims that he knows caused the violence on January 6.”
“Unfortunately, too many people in my party are embracing the former president, looking the other way, or minimizing the danger,” she told NBC’s “Today.” “That’s how democracies die. We simply cannot let that happen.”
Others, including Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, were absent, along with a contingent of colleagues at the funeral for former Senator Johnny Isakson in Georgia.
In an effort to keep the public informed, Democrats investigating the uprising plan to spend the coming months telling the American people exactly what happened on January 6. But leaders will use the anniversary to appeal to a broader patriotic instinct.
During the 2020 campaign, Biden said his motivation to run for the White House was to fight for “the soul of the nation” after seeing Trump’s comments that some good people were among the white supremacists marched in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017. He warned that America’s democracy was at stake and his view that the January 6 attacks were an illustration. living proof of his fear.
Biden has drawn criticism from some in his party for failing to forcibly explain to Americans the dangers of democracy, or push Congress hard enough to pass election legislation and Voting rights are stalled by a controversy in the Senate. The president has suggested that democracy can be strengthened by showing that the American government can work. But critics say that’s not enough.
On Thursday, aides said Biden would return to his call during his inaugural address, just two weeks after the uprising, for leaders to tell the truth about the attack and its motives. it – even as some GOP legislators and the public deny that day’s facts.
“There are truths and there are lies,” Biden said at the time. “Lie for power and profit. And each of us has a duty and responsibility, as citizens, as Americans, and especially as leaders—leaders who are committed to respecting the Constitution and protect our nation – defend the truth and defeat the lies. “
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is also marking the anniversary with a call to high spirits, telling the Associated Press in an interview Wednesday that “democracy won that night,” as the National Assembly returned to the Capitol after the riots and confirmed Biden’s victory.
In honor of the anniversary, Pelosi scheduled a moment of silence in the House, where many members were evacuated and some were trapped when rioters tried to break in. She will also send separate comments to Hill staffers who, as she told the AP, stayed behind to “defend our democracy.”
Then, Democratic leaders will hold a moderated discussion with historians Doris Kearns Goodwin and Jon Meacham; and a session with testimonials from members present that day. While many lawmakers will be absent due to concerns about COVID-19, some events will be live streamed so they can participate.
Biden’s sharp message and Republican alienation from it as lawmakers adjust to the new normal on Capitol Hill – growing tensions worry many will lead to more violence or one day, a legal election is overturned. Democrats and some Republicans feel an urgent need to connect with the public, with some believing Trump lied that the election was stolen from him and the election. non-violent attack.
A new poll from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that three in 10 Republicans said the attack was non-violent, and about three in 10 said the attack wasn’t violent. that it is somewhat violent. About two-thirds of Americans describe the day as very or extremely violent, including about nine out of ten Democrats.
As Biden prepares to directly blame the former president, the percentage of Americans who blame Trump for the January 6 riots has risen slightly over the past year, with 57% saying he bears significant responsibility for the riots. what happened.
In an AP-NORC poll conducted in the days after the attack, 50% said that.
Trump’s claims about widespread election fraud have been dismissed by courts and his own Justice Department.
An AP investigation found there were less than 475 cases of voter fraud out of 25.5 million ballots cast in six battleground states that Trump disputes, a tiny number as a percentage. .