US President Joe Biden has delivered what he declared was the “God’s truth” as the country marked the first anniversary of the US Capitol insurrection.
The violent attack by Donald Trump’s supporters fundamentally changed Congress and raised global concerns about the future of American democracy.
Mr Biden’s criticism was particularly blistering of then-president Mr Trump and his violent supporters.
“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.”
“I will stand in this breach,” he declared, his voice rising.
“Democracy was attacked,” Mr Biden said at the Capitol.
“We the people endure. We the people prevailed.”
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.”
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.”
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