During a speech Thursday to mark the first anniversary of the Jan. 6 attack at the U.S. Capitol, President Joe Biden will say his predecessor, Donald Trump, had “singular responsibility” for the deadly event, White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said on Wednesday.
Biden and his top aides have been reluctant to talk directly about Trump since he took office last January.
On Thursday, though, Biden will “lay out the significance of what happened in the Capitol and the singular responsibility President Trump has for the chaos and carnage that we saw and he will forcibly push back on the lies spread by the former president in an attempt to mislead the American people and his own supporters as well as distract from his role in what happened,” Psaki said.
“And so at this moment we must decide what kind of nation we are going to be,” Biden will say, according to excerpts of his remarks released early Thursday.
“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.”
Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris, both Democrats, will speak on Thursday morning at the U.S. Capitol, one year after a mob largely loyal to Trump raided the complex in a failed attempt to stop the counting of Electoral College votes that officially delivered Biden’s election victory.
Biden has been “clear-eyed about the threat the former president represents to our democracy and how the former president constantly works to constantly undermine basic American values and rule of law,” Psaki said.
She added that the president sees the deadly attacks as a “tragic culmination of what those four years under President Trump did to our country.”
Trump cancelled a news conference at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida that had been scheduled for Thursday evening, blaming what he called the “bias and dishonesty” of the House of Representatives probe of the attacks and the news media, a favourite target.
24:34The U.S. Capitol riot and American democracy one year later
Republicans muted about anniversary
A series of remembrance events during the day will be widely attended by Democrats, in person and virtually, but almost every Republican on Capitol Hill will be absent.
Multiple polls have indicated that a significant percentage of Republican voters still believe the November 2020 election was illegitimately won by Biden.
Four people died on the day of the riot, including a female protester who was fatally shot inside the Capitol, and one Capitol police officer died the day after defending Congress.
In a news conference on Wednesday, Attorney General Merrick Garland vowed to leave no stone unturned in the ongoing investigation into the Capitol Hill riots a year ago.
“The Justice Department remains committed to holding all Jan. 6 perpetrators, at any level, accountable under law, whether they were present that day or were otherwise criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy,” he said.
“We will follow the facts wherever they lead.”
Garland said more than 725 people have been arrested and charged in relation to the Jan. 6 attack, with those involved in assaulting police officers facing the most serious counts.
He said the investigation has issued more than 5,000 subpoenas and search warrants, seized 2,000 electronic devices and examined 20,000 hours of video footage and 15 terabytes of data.