US president Joe Biden has directly blamed his predecessor Donald Trump for the violence that took place at the Capitol building in Washington exactly a year ago.
He also suggested that Mr Trump and his allies had held “a dagger at the throat of American democracy”.
In a powerful address in the Capitol to mark the anniversary of the assault on the building by Trump supporters, Mr Biden said his predecessor had tried to prevent the peaceful transfer of power after he lost the election in November 2020 – the first time this had happened in American history.
Mr Biden said that after Mr Trump had “rallied the mob to attack” the Capitol, he had sat “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 capitol under siege”.
Mr Biden said Mr Trump had created and spread a web of lies about the 2020 presidential 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.”
He said Mr Trump’s ego would not allow him to accept that he had lost at the ballot box. “He can’t accept he lost . . . He’s not just a former president, he’s a defeated former president.”
He said Mr Trump had lost by more than seven million votes in a free and fair election.
He said there was “zero proof the election results were inaccurate” and that Mr Trump believed in power over principle.
Mr Biden said “democracy was attacked” on January 6th last year. He urged Americans to make sure such an attack “never, never happens again”.
In his address Mr Biden did not identify Mr Trump by name but only referred to him as the former president.
Mr Biden in his address also raised concerns about the fragile state of democracy in the United States but said he would not shirk from facing the challenge. He maintained the US was at an “inflection point” in a struggle between democracy and autocracy.
“At this moment we must decide what kind of nation we are going to be,” Mr Biden said. “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.
“You can’t love your country only when you win,” Mr Biden said. “You can’t obey the law only when it’s convenient. You can’t be patriotic when you embrace and enable lies.”
Mr Biden said that those who had stormed the Capitol and those who had called on them to do so had “held a dagger at the throat of . . . American democracy”.
“They didn’t come here out of patriotism or principle. They came here in rage – not in service of America, but rather in service of one man,” Mr Biden said.
He added: “I did not seek this fight brought to this Capitol one year ago today. But I will not shrink from it, either. I will stand in this breach. I will defend this nation and I will allow no one to place a dagger at the throat of democracy.”
In a statement Mr Trump hit out at the “partisan political hacks” holding a congressional inquiry into the January 6th attack on the Capitol, and said Mr Biden had “used my name today to try to further divide America”.