In remarks from the Capitol rotunda Thursday, President Joe Biden marked the one-year anniversary of the Jan. 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol, skewered those responsible for fueling the attacks and called on the U.S. to uphold a "shared belief in democracy."
"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?" Biden said Thursday. "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."
Biden was especially critical of his predecessor, former President Donald Trump, noting that he and others he held responsible for sparking the riots "held a dagger at the throat of American democracy." Though he did not mention Trump by name, he slammed the president for "watching on television and doing nothing" as the "nation's capital was under siege."
In particular, Biden criticized Trump for pushing the "big lie" that the 2020 election was marred by widespread voter fraud. He also criticized Republican efforts to pass legislation that made it more difficult to vote in the months after the riots.
"(Republicans) decided the only way for them to win is to suppress your vote," Biden said. "It's wrong; it's undemocratic and frankly un-American."
Before Biden's remarks, Vice President Kamala Harris also addressed concerns about voting rights.
"We must pass voting rights bills that are now before the Senate," she said.
Biden closed his speech Thursday by noting that "we are living at an inflection point in history, both at home and abroad," amid an ongoing battle of "democracy and autocracy."
"The former president who lies about the election and the mob that attacked this building could not be further away from American values," Biden said.
Former President Trump released a series of statements on his website Thursday after President Biden's speech.
Following a speech from then-President Donald Trump on Jan. 6, 2021, Trump supporters rushed the Capitol, disrupting the certification of the presidential election results.
Rioters broke windows, fought hand-to-hand with police officers and briefly delayed official proceedings in the Capitol.
Many of the rioters that day were fueled by false claims of widespread voter fraud — false claims that Trump and other top Republicans have pushed.
Five people, including a Capitol police officer, died during the riots. Several other Capitol police officers died by suicide in the days after the attack.
Since the attack, the Justice Department has arrested and charged more than 700 people in connection with crimes linked to the riots. More than 300 of those defendants face felony charges.
In addition, a Democrat-backed House panel — formed after Senate Republicans killed a proposal for a Sept. 11-style bicameral and bipartisan investigation — is working to determine the root causes of the attack. The panel is in the process of subpoenaing key players and recording their findings.
The Capitol police have seen their funding increase in the past year and have implemented policy changes to protect the building during large-scale protests better. Other states have also taken further steps to better secure their capitols and ensure lawmakers' safety.