President Joe Biden on Thursday accused his predecessor Donald Trump of posing a continuing threat to American democracy, with web of lies
He slammed Trump in a fiery speech on the anniversary of the deadly U.S. Capitol attack by Trump supporters who tried to overturn his 2020 election defeat.
Speaking at the white-domed building that was the scene of the Jan. 6, 2021, riot, Biden warned that 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.
“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,” Biden said.
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 backward.
But Democrats, a handful of Republicans and many independent observers have warned that the damage Trump did before the riot – in an incendiary speech to supporters in which he repeated his false election claims and exhorted them to go to the Capitol and “fight like hell” to “stop the steal” – lingers on.
“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.”
According to Reuters/Ipsos polling, some 55% of Republican voters believe Trump’s false claim, which was rejected by dozens of courts, state election departments and members of Trump’s own administration.
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.
One of the officers at the scene, Sergeant Harry Dunn of the Capitol Police, said the attack took an emotional toll.
“You cannot get away from Jan. 6 even if you’re trying to. It’s everywhere, especially if it’s your place of work,” Dunn said in a phone interview. “Accountability needs to be had, no matter who that comes at.”