Biden blames Trump for the Capitol riot in a Jan 6 speech

He did not name Trump even once though he referred to him at least 16 times in a speech lasting nearly 25 minutes
US President Joe Biden delivers remarks in the Statuary Hall of the US Capitol during a ceremony on the first anniversary of the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump in Washington, D.C. (REUTERS)
US President Joe Biden delivers remarks in the Statuary Hall of the US Capitol during a ceremony on the first anniversary of the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump in Washington, D.C. (REUTERS)
Updated on Jan 07, 2022 07:08 AM IST
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ByYashwant Raj

President Joe Biden on Thursday directly and bluntly blamed his predecessor former President Donald Trump for the January 6 insurrection in a speech on its first anniversary and called him a “liar” who had spun a web of lies about his defeat because of his “bruised ego” and because he “values power over principle”.

“He’s not just a former president,” Biden said training his sights on his predecessor and adding as he leaned into the microphone, “He’s a defeated former president.”

He did not name Trump even once though he referred to him at least 16 times in a speech lasting nearly 25 minutes.

President Biden spoke forcefully and bluntly to mark the anniversary of the insurrection by a mob of Trump’s supporters who had attacked US Capitol, home to American congress, on January 6 to prevent a joint sitting of lawmakers from certifying Biden’s election as the next president, a routine practice. He spoke from the Statuary Hall, a portion of the US Capitol building that had been ransacked by the rioters that day.

“For the first time in our history, a president had not just lost an election,” Biden said focusing on Trump’s role in the insurrection. “He tried to prevent the peaceful transfer of power as a violent mob reached the Capitol.”

The president then slammed his predecessor for doing nothing as the rioters menaced the building, kicking down doors, marching through the halls of the seat of US democracy with the flag of the separatist Confederacy, which, he reminded listeners, did not happen even during the Civil War.

“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,” the American president said.

He added: “A former president 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 because he sees his own interest is more important than his country’s interests than America’s interest. And because his bruised ego matters more to him than our democracy.”

Vice-president Kamala Harris, who introduced the president at the event, said, “On January 6th, 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. 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.”

Trump said in a statement: “Biden is working hard to try and deflect the incompetent job he is doing, and has done, on the horrible Afghanistan withdrawal (surrender), the Borders, Covid, Inflation, loss of Energy Independence, and much more. Everything he touches turns to failure. That’s what you get when you have a rigged Election.”

Trump’s role in inciting the insurrection, which the former president has still not condemned, is coming under increasing scrutiny and Attorney General Merrick Garland’s remarks on Wednesday, the eve of the anniversary, are being seen as an indicator that he may not escape legal jeopardy altogether.

“The Justice Department remains committed to holding all January 6th perpetrators, at any level, accountable under law — whether they were present that day or were otherwise criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy,” Garland said, adding, “We will follow the facts wherever they lead.”

Key takeaways from this remark were the use of certain phrases from the usually careful and mild-manner attorney general — such as “perpetrators, at any level” and “whether they were present that day” or not. Trump had spoken to the mob and sent them on their way saying he will walk with them but then headed back to the White House and, as Biden recounted, he had watched the violence unfold from his office.

Trump did eventually call for calm and urge the rioters to leave, but that he did hours after and under sustained pressure from his aides, including his daughter Ivanka Trump.

Trump’s role is also being examined by a select committee of the House of Representatives, which is investigating the insurrection and has heard testimonies from several of the former president’s close aides. Former chief of staff Mark Meadows first agreed to testify and then flipped, but not before he had handed over thousands of documents that shed a lot of light on Trump’s role.

The US department of justice is also investigating the attack as a criminal act. Up till Wednesday, it had arrested and charged more than 725 defendants, in nearly all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Approximately 40 defendants have been charged with conspiracy to obstruct a congressional proceeding and/or to obstruct law enforcement. Seventeen defendants are already scheduled to go to trial for their role in felony conspiracies, and more could follow.

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