Biden Says Trump’s ‘Web of Lies’ Threatens American Democracy

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  • Biden speaks on Capitol Hill, never says Trump’s name
  • Trump accuses Biden of trying to divide the country
  • Republican Cheney laments Trump’s “personality cult”

WASHINGTON, Jan.6 (Reuters) – President Joe Biden on Thursday accused his predecessor Donald Trump of spreading a “web of lies” to undermine American democracy in a speech on the anniversary of the attack murder on Capitol Hill by Trump supporters who tried to undo his 2020 election defeat.

Speaking outside the white-domed building where rioters smashed windows, assaulted police and sent lawmakers to flee for their lives on January 6, 2021, Biden said Trump’s false claims that the election had him been stolen through widespread electoral fraud could undermine the rule of law and overturn future elections.

“A former president of the United States of America created and spread a web of lies about the 2020 election. He did it because he values ​​power more than principle,” Biden said . “He cannot accept having lost.

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Biden never actually mentioned his predecessor’s name during the 25-minute speech, later telling reporters he was trying to focus on threats to the US political system instead of Trump himself.

The tone, including a bang on Trump’s “bruised ego”, was a departure for Biden, who focused for most of his first year in office on pursuing his own agenda. Trump released three statements within hours of his successor accusing Biden of trying to divide the country and repeating his false election statements.

Trump’s behavior over the past year, like his conduct in power, has shaken the norms. Unlike other former US presidents who refused to be reelected, Trump refused to accept the voters’ verdict and pressured his fellow Republicans to overturn the results somehow, without success. .

His bogus claims have allowed Republicans at the state level to pass new voting restrictions that they say are necessary to fight fraud. Research shows that such fraud is extremely rare in U.S. elections.

Biden’s fellow Democrats, a few Republicans and many independent experts have said Trump’s continued denials may make future U.S. transfers of power less likely to be peaceful – especially those involving margins closer to the 2020 election than Biden won by 7 million votes nationwide.

The speech illustrated that Biden and other Democrats remain wary of Trump’s political persistence. In the aftermath of the riot, even some Republicans believed his grip on their party had been shaken, but since then Trump has only tightened it.

‘PERSONALITY CULT’

US President Joe Biden speaks in Statuary Hall on the one-year anniversary of the January 6, 2021 attack on the United States Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC United States, January 6, 2022. REUTERS / Kevin Lamarque

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Only two Republicans have been seen during a session of the House of Representatives marking the anniversary of the riot: Representative Liz Cheney, who was rejected by party colleagues after criticizing Trump, and her father Dick Cheney, who was vice president of President George W. Bush.

“A party subjected to a cult of personality is a dangerous party for the country,” Liz Cheney told reporters as she left Capitol.

Dick Cheney told reporters that the current party leadership was unlike “any person I knew” when he was in Congress.

The next US federal election will be held in November, with Republicans in favor of retaking a majority in at least one of the two chambers of Congress. It could cripple Biden’s ability to push policy forward and set the stage for a two-year legislative deadlock ahead of a possible Biden-Trump rematch in 2024.

According to a Reuters / Ipsos poll, 55% of Republican voters believe Trump’s false claims, which have been rejected by dozens of courts, state election services and members of his own administration.

Four people have died in the chaos that lasted for hours after Trump urged his supporters to march to Capitol Hill and “fight like hell.” A policeman died that day after fighting rioters and four later committed suicide. About 140 police officers were injured. U.S. prosecutors have filed criminal charges against at least 725 people linked to the riot.

Trump remains very popular among Republican voters and works to shape the field of Republican candidates for the Nov. 8 election to Congress. Public documents show Trump has accumulated at least $ 98 million in fundraising accounts.

Most Republican officials have remained loyal to Trump, and some have sought to play down the riot. Biden said it was hypocritical of them to question the outcome of the presidential election while accepting Republican victories in congressional and state-level races that day.

Liz Cheney is one of only two Republican members of a House committee investigating the riot, which in recent weeks has uncovered documents showing Trump allies urging him to dismiss the rioters as the attack was taking place. Biden criticized Trump for “watching everything on TV and doing nothing for hours.”

Other Republicans have accused Democrats of exploiting the anniversary for partisan purposes.

“What a cheeky politicization of Jan. 6 by President Biden,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, who has reversed her stance on Trump on several occasions, including criticizing him after the riot and then returning to defend him.

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Reporting by Andy Sullivan and Richard Cowan, additional reporting by Moira Warburton, Makini Brice, Jason Lange and Susan Heavey; Editing by Will Dunham, Scott Malone and Grant McCool

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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