In Washington, DC, one year ago, Trump supporters stormed the Capitol building following the then-President’s rally on the Ellipse outside the White House, where he cast doubt on the results of the 2020 presidential election.
On Capitol Hill, a series of events organized by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will take place following Biden’s speech to mark the January 6 anniversary, including a moment of silence on the House floor and testimonials from lawmakers about the harrowing attack.
During his speech at Statuary Hall inside the Capitol building, Biden is expected to “lay out the significance of what happened at the Capitol and the singular responsibility President Trump has for the chaos and carnage that we saw,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said during Wednesday’s press briefing.
In a preview of the President’s remarks, Psaki said Biden will also “push back on the lie spread by the former President and attempt to mislead the American people and his own supporters as well as distract from his role and what happened.”
“And so at this moment we must decide what kind of nation we are going to be,” Biden is expected to say, according to prepared remarks released by the White House Thursday morning. “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. The way forward is to recognize the truth and to live by it.”
The events of the insurrection took place just two weeks before Biden’s inauguration, casting a shadow on the new President’s administration. And despite the slew of tossed out court cases, failed state election audits and countless debunked conspiracy claims, many Trump supporters have continued to doubt the legitimacy of Biden’s presidency.
Biden will address “silence and complacency” among Republican lawmakers since January 6, as well as voting rights, Psaki said, noting that Trump “abused his office, undermined the Constitution and ignored his oath to the American people in an effort to amass more power for himself and his allies.”
Harris expected to say “that the insurrection was not just an assault on our Capitol, but an assault on our freedom and values,” according to a White House official.
“The vice president will outline that the American experiment is being tested, and that we must work to secure voting rights, ensure free and fair elections, and safeguard our democracy for generations to come. She will also honor the brave men and women in law enforcement, who fought to uphold our democracy, protected the Capitol and saved the lives of the people who were there,” the official said in a statement.
Instead of his news conference on Thursday, Trump is expected to air his grievances at a campaign-style rally in Arizona next week.
Lawmakers and historians to commemorate anniversary
At the end of December, Pelosi announced a slate of events at the Capitol to mark the passage of a year since the deadly attack.
At noon, there will be a prayer and a moment of silence on the House floor. Then a moderated conversation will take place featuring historians Doris Kearns Goodwin and Jon Meacham. Pelosi’s letter said that the discussion will serve “to establish and preserve the narrative of January 6.”
Later, a prayer vigil will be held on the center steps of the Capitol where House and Senate lawmakers can participate.
While congressional Democrats have put together a full day of events to bring attention to what happened during the insurrection, congressional Republicans, in contrast, have seemed reluctant to talk much about it and especially reluctant to address Trump’s role.
“The actions of that day were lawless and as wrong as wrong can be. Our Capitol should never be compromised and those who broke the law deserve to face legal repercussions and full accountability,” he wrote.
McCarthy then pivoted to criticizing Democrats.
“Unfortunately, one year later, the majority party seems no closer to answering the central question of how the Capitol was left so unprepared and what must be done to ensure it never happens again. Instead, they are using it as a partisan political weapon to further divide our country,” he said.
CNN’s Phil Mattingly, Melanie Zanona, Jeremy Diamond and Nikki Carvajal contributed to this report.