U.S. President Joe Biden will use the first anniversary of the January 6 Capitol riot to speak bluntly about the impact of the shocking event — and to lay responsibility at the feet of former President Donald Trump, the White House said Wednesday.
“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,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.
“And he will forcibly push back on the lie 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. So, he will, of course, speak to the moment, to the importance in history of the peaceful transfer of power, of what we need to do to protect our own democracy and be forward-looking, but he will also reflect on the role his predecessor had.”
Vice President Kamala Harris will give remarks alongside Biden on Thursday morning. When asked if Biden would identify Trump by name during his speech to Congress, Psaki demurred.
“We’ll see,” she said. “We’re finalizing the speech. But I think people will know who he’s referring to.”
Also Wednesday, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland vowed that Justice Department prosecutors will pursue perpetrators “at any level” responsible for the riot.
He did not name any individuals who may face prosecution, but said: “There can be no different rules for the powerful and the powerless.”
Late Tuesday, Trump suddenly canceled a Thursday evening press conference at his Florida estate, where he also intended to speak about the deadly attack on the Capitol that led to at least five deaths and more than 130 injuries and saw more than 720 participants charged with crimes. Trump said he would instead discuss “important topics” at a January 15 rally in Arizona.
In a statement, Trump accused the congressional committee investigating the event of showing “total bias and dishonesty.” He maintains that the November 2020 presidential election was marred by fraud and that he actually won. There is no evidence to support that claim.
On Wednesday, Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., tweeted that he believes the congressional select committee currently investigating the events of January 6 is a “sham.”
“Democrats across the country are destroying the rule of law by using their power in government to illegally target, bully and harass their political enemies,” he said.
Public opinion polls have shown about 70% of Republicans do not consider Biden’s election win legitimate.
The pro-Trump mob stormed the seat of Congress as lawmakers inside were meeting to certify election results. They overpowered the massively outnumbered Capitol Police officers on duty, smashing windows, erecting a gallows and vandalizing the historic building, and sending lawmakers fleeing for safety.
Some rioters said they were seeking out specific individuals — in particular, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and former Vice President Mike Pence. VOA attempted to contact two associates of Pence in an effort to find out whether he had any plans on Thursday. They did not respond.
Only hours later, after federal law enforcement agencies and the military arrived to reestablish control of the Capitol, were the members of Congress able to complete their work and certify Biden’s election win, setting the stage for his inauguration weeks later.
Four Trump supporters died on the day of the assault, and a Capitol Police officer died the next day. The mob injured dozens of officers, and in the months since the attack. four officers have died by suicide.
Carl Tobias, a professor at the University of Richmond School of Law, told Agence France-Presse that Trump’s campaign is “unprecedented in U.S. history.”
“No former president has attempted to do so much to discredit his successor and the democratic process,” Tobias said.
While Biden prepares to lay blame for the insurrection on Trump, some Republican lawmakers accuse Democrats of attempting to channel fallout from the riot for partisan ends.