The President of the United States of America, Joe Biden, has accused his predecessor, Donald Trump, and Mr Trump’s supporters of attacking America’s democracy. He spoke Thursday at an event to mark the anniversary of the January 6, 2021 deadly assault on the U.S. Capitol.
Mr Biden warned that though the attackers did not succeed, the insurrection remains a serious threat to America’s system of government.
“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,” Mr Biden said, adding that “on this day of remembrance, we must make sure that such an attack never, never happens again.”
“We saw it with our own eyes; Rioters menaced 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,” Mr Biden said in the Statuary Hall, a venue which rioters paraded through one year ago.
But what did we not see, Mr Biden said, “…is 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, and the nation’s capital under siege.”
“This wasn’t a group of tourists. This was an armed insurrection. They weren’t looking to uphold the will of the people. They were looking to deny the will of the people,” he added.
President Biden further accused Mr Trump of spreading a “web of lies” about the last U.S. election and American democracy.
“He’s done so because he values power over principle because he sees his own interest was more important than his country’s interest,” Mr Biden said of his predecessor. “His bruised ego matters more to him than our democracy or our Constitution.”
“He can’t accept he lost, even though that’s what 93 United States senators, his own attorney general, his own vice president, governors, and state officials in every battleground state have all said he lost,” he added.
The 46th American President, who was visibly angry in his speech, said Mr Trump has done what no president in American history has ever done: “He refused to accept the results of an election and the will of the American people.”
“The former president’s supporters are trying to rewrite history. They want you to see election day as the day of insurrection and the riot that took place here on January 6 as a true expression of the will of the people. Can you think of a more twisted way to look at this country, to look at America? I cannot.”
We are in a battle for the soul of America, Mr Biden said. “I did not seek this fight, brought to this Capitol one year from today. But I will not shrink from it either. I will stand in this breach, I will defend this nation. I will allow no one to place a dagger at the throat of this democracy.”
Trump blasts Biden’s speech
Meanwhile, Mr Trump has lashed out at President Biden over his speech at the January 6 commemorations.
“He used my name today to try to further divide America”, Mr Trump said of Mr Biden in a statement. “This political theater is all just a distraction.”
The former president accused his successor of “destroying our nation” with “insane” border policies, “corrupt elections” and “devastating school closures”.
The Capitol Riot
Hundreds of then-President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021, in an unsuccessful attempt to stop Congress from certifying Democratic President Joe Biden’s election win.
Four people died on the day of the violence and a Capitol Police officer who had been attacked by protesters died the following day, January 8.
About 140 officers from both the Capitol Police and the D.C. department were injured in the melee.
During an emotional testimony last year, four police officers told a House of Representatives special committee that they were beaten, threatened, taunted with racial insults, and thought they might die as they struggled to defend the Capitol against the mob.