Washington — President Biden marked one year since the January 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol with a fiery speech at the site of the insurrection, rebuking the violence and former President Donald Trump’s attempts to overthrow the 2020 election that made Mr. Biden president.
“We will make sure the will of the people is heard,” Mr. Biden said in the Capitol’s Statuary Hall. “That the battle prevails, not violence. That the authority of this nation will always be peacefully transferred. I believe the power of the presidency is to unite this nation, to lift us up, not tear us apart.”
Mr. Biden warned that democracy is at risk, asking, “Are we going to be a nation that lives not by the light of the truth but in the shadow of lies?”
Mr. Biden told reporters after his speech that the way to heal is to “recognize the extent of the wound. You can’t pretend. This is serious stuff. You’ve got to face it. That’s what great nations do.”
Vice President Kamala Harris, speaking earlier, said the assault reflected the “fragility of democracy.” While she noted in her speech that she had been at the Capitol in the morning, she said she had left before the Capitol perimeter was breached. But CBS News confirmed later Thursday that she was evacuated on January 6, 2021 from the DNC shortly after a pipe bomb was discovered.
Mr. Biden and Harris’ speeches kicked off a busy day at the Capitol, where lawmakers reflected on their own personal memories of the day and held a prayer vigil on the same steps where rioters had overrun the Capitol one year earlier.
Democrats focused on blaming Trump for the violence, with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer lambasting him during a speech on the Senate floor marking the events of January 6, saying the former president continues “to spread his poisonous vile about the ‘big lie.'”
“The violent insurrection of January 6 was a day that will live forever in infamy, a permanent stain in the story of the American democracy and the final, bitter, unforgivable act of the worst president in modern times,” Schumer said.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in the briefing Thursday that Mr. Biden would not comment on whether Trump should be charged in connection with the January 6 attack, saying he would “leave that up to his Justice Department.”
Five people died as a result of the violence on January 6, and Trump was impeached on a charge of inciting the violence. He was later acquitted by the Senate. The House of Representatives has set up a select committee to investigate the origins of the attack.
In a letter to his Democratic colleagues this week, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer wrote that January 6 participants were “fueled by conspiracy and the ravings of a vengeful former president” and “they sought to destroy our Republic.”
Schumer continued that Senate Democrats “will make clear that what happened on January 6th and the one-sided, partisan actions being taken by Republican-led state legislatures across the country are directly linked, and we can and must take strong action to stop this antidemocratic march.” He called for the Senate to change its rules around debate and announced the Senate will debate and vote before Martin Luther King Jr. Day on changing the rules if the GOP blocks voting rights legislation.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy wrote in a letter to Republican members that the “actions of that day were lawless and as wrong as wrong can be.” But he added that Democrats are “using it as a partisan political weapon to further divide our country.”
Paramount+ is now streaming “Indivisible — Healing Hate,” a gripping six-part documentary narrated by Mandy Patinkin that traces the origins of anti-government extremism and how it built on a deadly series of historical events over decades to culminate in the violent storming of the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. Stream it now on Paramount+.