President Joe Biden starkly criticized former President Donald Trump and the lies woven around the 2020 election results in a forceful speech marking a year since the brazen attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Against the background of Statuary Hall in the Capitol, Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris addressed the nation on Thursday morning, the start of a day of memorials.
The president said he would not shrink from a fight for the country.
“I will defend this nation and allow no one to place a dagger at the throat of democracy,” Biden said.
The Jan. 6 insurrection, predicated on overturning the results of the 2020 presidential election, led to five deaths, hundreds of arrests and the creation of the bipartisan House select committee dedicated to investigating the causes behind it.
The events of that day led later that month to the second impeachment of former President Donald Trump over his role in inciting the violence. He was acquitted by the Senate in February.
In the aftermath of the Capitol riot, relationships between Republican and Democratic senators and members of Congress — many of whom took shelter from the rioters on Capitol Hill — became strained. Some have called into question the trustworthiness of those still supportive of Trump.
Lawmakers will commemorate the day with narratives, reflections and a prayer vigil.
Shortly after 9 a.m., President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris walked onto a platform in the Capitol’s Statuary Hall, where the silence was heavy, aside from the sounds of their footsteps and the clicking of cameras. The room was mostly empty besides a handful of reporters, staffers, and TV cameras.
As Harris began speaking, Biden retrieved a tissue from his pocket, and wiped his eyes.
Harris described the Capitol insurrection as an ominous warning about the future of the country should its root causes go unaddressed.
“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,” Harris said.
“The American spirit is being tested,” she cautioned. The answer to whether we will meet that test resides where it has always resided in our country – with you. The people. The work ahead will not be easy.”
The vice president described the rioters actions as an attack “on the rule of law” and further argued that conspiracy theories about the illegitimacy of the 2020 election threatened the democratic nature of the country. She called on Congress to pass voting rights legislation to combat restrictive voting laws passed in GOP states.
“We cannot sit on the sidelines. We must unite in defense of our democracy,” Harris said.
– Matthew Brown
On the eve of the Capitol insurrection anniversary, one of American conservatism’s most influential architects urged Republicans to condemn the Capitol insurrection for the good of the country.
“On the anniversary of Jan. 6, I’m addressing squarely those Republicans who for a year have excused the actions of the rioters who stormed the Capitol, disrupted Congress as it received the Electoral College’s results, and violently attempted to overturn the election,” wrote Karl Rove, a former senior adviser in the George W. Bush administration and political commentator, in an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal.
Rove condemned efforts at “soft pedaling” the events of Jan. 6, arguing that any downplaying of the violence or mob’s motivations was a danger to the country.
“If Democrats had done what some Trump supporters did on that violent Jan. 6, Republicans would have criticized them mercilessly and been right to do so,” Rove wrote.
– Matthew Brown
Former President Jimmy Carter held out hope that the Capitol riot would “shock the nation into addressing the toxic polarization that threatens our democracy.” That hasn’t happened.
Writing Thursday in The New York Times, the nation’s 39th president said too many people continue to promote the lie of a stolen election in 2020. They “have taken over one political party and stoked distrust in our electoral systems,” Carter wrote on the one-year anniversary of the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
Carter wrote that politicians “have leveraged the distrust they have created to enact laws that empower partisan legislatures to intervene in election processes.”
While not specifically citing ex-President Donald Trump or the Republican Party by name, Carter called out politicians in Texas, Florida and his home state of Georgia.
He added: “They seek to win by any means, and many Americans are being persuaded to think and act likewise, threatening to collapse the foundations of our security and democracy with breathtaking speed.”
– David Jackson
To begin a day of events commemorating Jan. 6, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala will deliver remarks at 9 a.m. at the Capitol.
On Capitol Hill, a series of memorials organized by Democrats will mark the Capitol attack with prayer, testimony from lawmakers and conversations with historians.
The events kick off at noon. A prayer vigil and moment of silence will be observed on the House floor, followed by a panel moderated by the sitting Librarian of Congress to “establish and preserve the narrative of January 6th.”
At least two GOP lawmakers, Reps. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., and Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., will counter-program the main events with their own speeches.
In the afternoon, at 2:30 p.m. Rep. Jason Crow, D-Colo., will preside over testimonies from lawmakers about their experiences during the insurrection.
Elsewhere around Washington, civic groups will push to remember the insurrection in their own manner.
The Catalyst Movement, a social advocacy organization, will hold a vigil from 2-6 p.m. on the National Mall.
At 4:45 p.m., a coalition of more than 130 organizations will hold a candlelight vigil near the Capitol. Shortly after and nearby, at 5:30 p.m., lawmakers will hold a prayer vigil on the steps of the Capitol.
– Matthew Brown
Biden to pin ‘singular responsibility’ on Trump for Jan. 6 attack in Capitol speech
President Joe Biden will pin “singular responsibility” for the Jan. 6 Capitol attack on former President Donald Trump during remarks on Thursday marking a year since the insurrection.
The White House said Biden will use his speech to “forcibly push back on the lie spread by the former president” about the 2020 election.
Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will both speak Thursday morning at the Capitol, kicking off a full day of events to commemorate the attack. Excerpts released ahead of it point to a speech focused on a turning point in U.S. democracy.
“And so at this moment we must decide what kind of nation we are going to be. Are we going to be a nation that accepts political violence as a norm? Are we going to be a nation where we allow partisan election officials to overturn the legally expressed will of the people? Are we going to be a nation that lives not by the light of the truth but in the shadow of lies?
“We cannot allow ourselves to be that kind of nation.
“The way forward is to recognize the truth and to live by it.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden will “speak to the truth of what happened” on Jan. 6 and talk about the work the U.S. must do to “secure and strengthen our democracy.”
“I would expect that President Biden will lay out the significance of what happened at the Capitol and the singular responsibility President Trump has for the chaos and carnage that we saw,” Psaki said, “and he will forcibly push back on the lie spread by the former president and attempts to mislead the American people and his own supporters as well as distract from his role in what happened.”
Psaki said Biden will also touch on voting rights legislation, which Democratic leaders are hoping to pass by Jan. 17, Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
– Joey Garrison
Who has been prosecuted?
Federal prosecutors have charged over 700 people in more than 45 states for participating in the insurrection.
But the FBI’s wanted page for violent Capitol offenders shows photos of another 350 people who have yet to be publicly identified or charged. As of mid-December, at least 146 individuals have signed guilty pleas and at least 55 have been sentenced.
Among those charged are Frank Scavo, a former Republican candidate for Pennsylvania state Senate; Tam Dinh Pham, an ex-Houston police officer; and “QAnon Shaman” Jacob Chansley, aka Jake Angeli.
Database of Capitol riot arrests:Search this database of hundreds of people who were charged in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot
Notable images from January 6
The events of the day were witnessed live by millions through livestreams and captured in shocking images. Flip through the most iconic photos here. Below, some notable ones.
ABOVE: Trump supporters force themselves through a police barrier in front of the Capitol. The rioters breached police lines on the west side of the building at 2:11 p.m.
ABOVE: Police release teargas against rioters surrounding the Capitol on Jan. 6. Those who made it past police lines scaled the walls. Some were photographed breaking building windows around 2:30 p.m.
ABOVE: Rioters who breached the House chamber faced a standoff with armed law enforcement. Shots were reportedly fired in the chamber at 2:44 p.m. Lawmakers were supplied with escape hoods, respiratory hoods and a mask to protect against fires and chemical accidents before evacuating the room, according to witnesses.
Rioters are confronted outside the Senate chamber after breaching the Capitol. Trump supporter Jacob Chansley arrived wearing horns and carrying a U.S. flag. Chansley was arrested days later and sentenced in November to 41 months in federal prison for obstructing a civil proceeding.
Police munitions used to fend off rioters light up the west side of the Capitol. The mob of Trump supporters fought their way into the building, overcoming barriers erected by law enforcement and breaking windows to get in.