Biden decries ‘big lie’ and blames Trump for US Capitol insurrection

(AP) - President Joe Biden has forcefully condemned Donald Trump’s election “big lie” that sparked the deadly breach of the US Capitol by his supporters and continues to motivate deep national division.

He marked the anniversary of the insurrection by declaring he will stand and fight for “the soul of America”.

Mr Biden’s criticism was blistering of the “defeated president”, who he blamed for the attack that has fundamentally changed Congress and raised global concerns about the future of American democracy.

“For the first time in our history, a president not just lost an election, he tried to prevent the peaceful transfer of power as a violent mob breached the Capitol,” Mr Biden said.

“But they failed.”

His voice booming at times, filling the ornate hall with statues of the country’s leaders and heroes, he called on Americans to see January 6 for what it was.

“Democracy was attacked,” Mr Biden said at the Capitol.

“We the people endure. We the people prevailed.”

US President Joe Biden speaks at the US Capitol on January 6, 2022, to mark the anniversary of the attack on the Capitol in Washington, DC. - Biden accused his predecessor Donald Trump of attempting to block the democratic transfer of power on January 6, 2021.
US President Joe Biden speaks at the US Capitol on January 6, 2022, to mark the anniversary of the attack on the Capitol in Washington, DC. - Biden accused his predecessor Donald Trump of attempting to block the democratic transfer of power on January 6, 2021. "For the first time in our history, a president not just lost an election; he tried to prevent the peaceful transfer of power as a violent mob breached the Capitol," Biden said. (Photo by Greg Nash / POOL / AFP) (Photo by GREG NASH/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

The president and congressional Democrats started the day in Statuary Hall, one of several spots where rioters swarmed a year ago and interrupted the electoral count.

He drew a contrast between the truth of what happened and the false narratives that have sprung up about the Capitol assault, including the continued refusal by many Republicans to affirm that Mr Biden won the 2020 election.

“You and I and the whole world saw with our own eyes,” Mr Biden said.

He asked those listening to close their eyes and recall what they saw that day, as he described the harrowing, violent scene, the mob attacking police, threatening the House speaker, erecting gallows threatening to hang the vice president – all while Mr Trump sat at the White House watching it on TV.

“Here is the God’s truth about January 6 2021,” Mr Biden said.

“They were looking to subvert the constitution.”

“We must be absolutely clear about what is true and what is a lie. Here’s the truth,” he said.

“The former president of the United States of America has spread a web of lies about the 2020 election.

“We are in a battle for the soul of America.

“I did not seek this fight, brought to this Capitol one year from today. But I will not shrink from it either. I will stand in this breach, I will defend this nation. I will allow no-one to place a dagger at the throat of this democracy.”

WASHINGTON DC - JANUARY 6 Thousands of Trump supporters violently stormed the Capitol to support the President's baseless claims and lies that he won the election on January 6, 2021 in Washington DC. Trump has asked his supporters including members of the extremist male chauvinist group Proud Boys to protest the election results. (Photo by Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON DC - JANUARY 6 Thousands of Trump supporters violently stormed the Capitol to support the President's baseless claims and lies that he won the election on January 6, 2021 in Washington DC. Trump has asked his supporters including members of the extremist male chauvinist group Proud Boys to protest the election results. (Photo by Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

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.

The division is a stark reminder of the rupture between the two parties, worsening since hundreds of Mr Trump’s supporters violently pushed past police, used their fists and flagpoles to break through the windows of the Capitol and interrupted the certification of Mr Biden’s victory.

While congressional Republicans almost universally condemned the attack in the days afterwards, most have stayed loyal to the former president.

Representative Liz Cheney, chairwoman of the House committee investigating the attack and one of the few Republican legislators attending the Capitol ceremonies, warned that “the threat continues”.

Mr Trump, she said, “continues to make the same claims that he knows caused violence on January 6”.

“Unfortunately, too many in my own party are embracing the former president, are looking the other way or minimising the danger,” she told NBC’s Today.

“That’s how democracies die. We simply cannot let that happen.”