President-elect Joe Biden, before formally announcing Judge Merrick Garland as his nominee for attorney general Thursday, in no uncertain terms tore into outgoing President Donald Trump and the supporters who staged the violent acts in the U.S. Capitol to disrupt the joint session of Congress while it was confirming the results of the presidential race.
“Yesterday in my view one of the darkest days in the history of our nation, an unprecedented assault literally on the citadel of liberty in the United States Capitol, an assault on the rule of law and the most sacred of American undertakings,” Biden said. “We all grieve the loss of life. What we witnessed yesterday was not decent.”
Those involved were not protesters, said Biden, but a “riotous mob,” and the nation could see the attacks coming because of the actions of Trump over the past four years.
He also called the level of protection at the Capitol “unacceptable.”
“No one can tell me that if it had been a group of Black Lives Matter protesting yesterday they wouldn’t have been treated very, very differently than the mob of thugs that stormed the Capitol,” he said. “We all know that is true, and it is unacceptable. Totally unacceptable. The American people saw it in plain view, and I hope it sensitizes them to what we have to do.”
“We have had a president that made his contempt for our democracy, for our rule of law clear on everything he has done,” said Biden. “Yesterday was the culmination of his unrelenting attacks. He repeatedly called the free press the enemy of the people. The language at the time that he first used has long been used by autocrats and dictators all over the world.”
But such language is now being used by “the outgoing president of the United States,” said Biden, adding that Trump would not tell “the truth about the efforts of a foreign power” to interfere with the U.S. elections, instead choosing to believe the words of Russian President Vladimir Putin over his own intelligence community.
Trump also used the military to target peaceful protesters in his pursuit of a photo opportunity this past summer, said Biden, in an act that led to the “outspoken denunciation of the use of the military for domestic political purposes from scores of former military leaders and secretaries of defense.”
Trump also thought he could stack courts with friendly judges who would “support him no matter what,” including in the Supreme Court, “because he thought the election would end up in the Supreme Court and they would hand him the election,” said Biden.
However, the judges and justices “acted with integrity” and did their jobs, said Biden, both in the Supreme Court and in federal courts around the country.
“Our democracy survived in no small part because of the men and women that represented an independent judiciary,” said Biden. “We owe them a deep debt of gratitude.”
Such acts on Trump’s part culminated in Congress itself being attacked by a mob, said Biden.
“What we saw yesterday in plain view was another violation of the fundamental tenet of this nation,” said Biden.