Joe Biden Jan. 6 speech

QUESTIONING TRUMP'S PATRIOTISM: Taking on his old foe more directly than he had since he was sworn in, President Biden in a speech from Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol marking the anniversary of the insurrection aimed at overturning the result of that vote said, in a clear reference to Donald Trump and his supporters, 'You can't love your country only when you win. You can't obey the law only when it's convenient. You can't be patriotic when you embrace and enable lies.'

After a year of largely ignoring his predecessor, only to see him consolidate his grip on the Republican Party while undermining some of his administration's key goals, President Biden on the anniversary of the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol came there and accused Donald Trump and his supporters of having "held a dagger at the throat of America and American democracy."

Without mentioning him by name, Mr. Biden said that not only had the disgraced former President "refused to accept the results of an election and the will of the American people," he was continuing to try to subvert future elections to his advantage and that of his supporters.

'Denying, Not Protecting'

"Right now, in state after state, new laws are being written not to protect the vote, but to deny it," the President said in Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol Building. One of his major legislative priorities has been to push through an updated version of the Voting Rights Act, but his efforts have been thwarted by the refusal of Republicans in both Houses of Congress to approve it, largely at the direction of Mr. Trump.


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With most GOP officials shunning the ceremonies at the Capitol marking the anniversary of the violent efforts to prevent certification of the Electoral College vote in the 2020 election, Mr. Biden said, "One year ago today, in this sacred place, democracy was attacked. The will of the people was under assault. The Constitution—our Constitution—faced the greatest of threats."

While the rioters were repelled after hours of struggle in which more than 140 police officers were injured and one of them died the following day, the President said, that didn't alter the reality that a defeated President "tried to prevent the peaceful transfer of power as a violent mob breached the Capitol."

He recalled "Rioters rampaging, waving for the first time inside this Capitol the Confederate flag that symbolized the cause to destroy America, to rip us apart."

Threatened Pelosi, Pence

Mr. Biden continued, "We saw with our own eyes rioters menace these halls, threatening the life of the Speaker of the House. Literally erecting gallows to hang the Vice President of the United States.

"What did we not see? 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, for hours. As police were assaulted. Lives at risk. The nation's capital under siege."

He said of the Trump supporters who had stormed the building, many armed with weapons, "They weren't looking to uphold a free and fair election, they were looking to overturn one. They weren't looking to save the cause of America. They were looking to subvert the Constitution."

Mr. Trump, responding from his Florida home in Mar-a-Lago, said, "This political theater is all just a distraction for the fact Biden has completely and totally failed. The Democrats want to own this day of Jan. 6 so they can stoke fears and divide America."

But the President, having heard similar arguments by Republican congressional leaders, addressed such claims in his 25-minute speech, saying, "This isn't about being bogged down in the past. It's about making sure the past isn't buried."

'Can't Accept He Lost'

Turning his focus squarely on Mr. Trump, Mr. Biden said, "The former President of the 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 as more important than his country's interest, than America's interest, and because his bruised ego matters more to him than our democracy or our Constitution. He can't accept he lost."

He continued, "He's done what no President in American history has ever, ever done. He refused to accept the results of an election and the will of the American people. While some courageous men and women in the Republican Party are standing against it, trying to uphold the principles of that party, too many others are transforming that party into something else."

Mr. Biden then asked, "So at this moment, we must decide, what kind of nation are we 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 elected 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 of the shadow of lies?

"The big lie being told by the former President and many Republicans who fear his wrath is that the insurrection in this country actually took place on Election Day, Nov. 3, 2020...They want you to see Election Day as the day of insurrection, and the riot that took place here on Jan. 6 as a true expression of the will of the people. Can you think of a more twisted way to look at this country? To look at America? I cannot."

Cites Record Vote

Noting that more than 150 million people voted in that election, the President called it "the greatest demonstration of democracy in the history of this country." Then, referring to Republican efforts to limit voting, he added, "Right now, in state after state, new laws are being written not to protect the vote, but to deny it...Instead of looking at the election results in 2020 and saying they need new ideas or better ideas to win more voters, the former President and his supporters have decided the only way for them to win is to suppress your vote and subvert our elections. It's wrong, it's undemocratic, and frankly, it's un-American."

Rebuking the claims by Mr. Trump and his supporters that the election was stolen in several battleground states, Mr. Biden said, "The truth is that no election in American history has been more closely scrutinized or more carefully counted. Every legal challenge questioning the results in every court in this country that could have been made was made and rejected. Often rejected by Republican-appointed judges, including judges appointed by the former President himself."

And, the President said, "the third big lie being told by the former President and his supporters is that the mob who sought to impose their will through violence are the nation's true patriots."

He spoke of the insurrectionists "ransacking the Capitol, destroying property, literally defecating in the hallways, rifling through the desks of Senators and Representatives, hunting down Members of Congress. Patriots? Not in my view. To me the true patriots were the more-than 150 million Americans who peacefully expressed their vote at the ballot box. The election workers who protected the integrity of the vote. And the heroes who defended this capital."

Undermined Law

Turning his sights directly on Mr. Trump again, Mr. Biden said, "You can't love your country only when you win. You can't obey the law only when it's convenient. You can't be patriotic when you embrace and enable lies."

Those who invaded the Capitol Building and "held a dagger at the throat of America and American democracy," the President continued, "came here in rage. Not in service of America, but rather in service of one man. Those who incited the mob, the real plotters who were desperate to deny the certification of this election, defy the will of the voters, but their plot was foiled."

But, he added, a danger remained from "the forces that value brute strength over the sanctity of democracy; fear over hope, personal gain over public good." He said that rulers of autocratic nations including China and Russia were "betting that democracies' days are numbered. They're betting that America is a place for the autocrat, the dictator, the strong man. I do not believe that. That is not who we are. That is not who we have ever been."

Mr. Biden contended, "The former President who lies about this election and the mob that attacked this Capitol could not be further away from the core American values. They want to rule or they will ruin. Ruin what our country fought for at Lexington and Concord, at Gettysburg and Omaha Beach. Seneca Falls, Selma, Alabama. And what we were fighting for: the right to vote, the right to govern ourselves, the right to determine our own destiny."      

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