On the anniversary of the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, President Joe Biden on Thursday excoriated his predecessor Donald Trump for his role in a violent mob storming the building in protest of Biden’s election victory, calling the deepening political divide in the aftermath a “battle for the soul of our nation.”
“Don’t kid yourself. The pain and scars from that day run deep,” the president said during a morning address from the Capitol. “We are in a battle for the soul of America. A battle that by the grace of God, the goodness and gracious, greatness of this nation we will win.”
In his most passionate and direct blitz against Trump, Biden accused the former president of orchestrating the attack that left five officers dead in its wake.
Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick collapsed and later died from two strokes following the attacks after rioters sprayed him with chemicals. Four other police officers who responded to the insurrection later died by suicide.
Four Trump supporters also died during the riot, including a woman fatally shot by a U.S. Capitol Police officer as she and others in the mob attempted to break into the Speaker’s Lobby outside the House chamber.
“[Trump] and his allies placed a dagger at the throat of American democracy,” Biden said. “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.
“[Trump] did nothing for hours as police were assaulted, lives were at risk, the nation’s Capitol under siege,” the president said.
The president did not use Trump’s name throughout his speech, only referring to him by title and gender.
In the aftermath of the attack that disrupted a joint session of the U.S. Congress in the process of affirming the presidential election results, the government has continued its investigation.
According to a May 2021 estimate by the Architect of the Capitol, the attack caused approximately $1.5 million worth of damage to the U.S. Capitol building.
The Department of Justice insists that it remains resolved to hold accountable those who committed crimes on Jan. 6, 2021. There have been more than 725 arrests in nearly all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
According to the Department of Justice, more than 225 people faced charges with assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers or employees, including over 75 individuals charged with using a deadly or dangerous weapon or causing serious bodily injury to an officer.
Rioters assaulted approximately 140 police officers in the attack, including about 80 U.S. Capitol Police and 60 from the Metropolitan Police Department, the Justice Department said.
Also, authorities arrested 10 individuals on a series of charges related to assaulting a member of the media or destroying their equipment.
Vice President Kamala Harris also addressed the attacks on the solemn anniversary, speaking of her experience on that day.
“My staff were converting filing cabinets into barricades after we were evacuated from chambers,” Harris said. “The fragility of our democracy is this: if we are not vigilant, if we do not defend it, democracy simply will not stand. It will falter, and it will fail.”
She compared the attack to Pearl Harbor.
“Certain dates echo throughout history, including dates that instantly remind all who have lived through them where they were and what they were doing when our democracy came under assault,” Harris said. “Dates that occupy not only a place on our calendars, but a place in our collective memory: December 7, 1941; September 11, 2001; and January 6, 2021.”
Biden concluded that it’s crucial America moves forward.
“The way you have to heal, you have to recognize the extent of the wound,” he said. “This is serious stuff. … You’ve gotta face it. That’s what great nations do. They face the truth, deal with it, and move on.”