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Trump seeks ‘revenge and retribution’, Biden says in Jan 6 anniversary speech

In World
January 06, 2024

VALLEY FORGE, PENNSYLVANIA – United States President Joe Biden on Jan 5 accused Republican Donald Trump, his likely 2024 election opponent, of instigating the Jan 6 attacks and plotting revenge on those seeking to punish him, as the president put the future of US democracy at the centre of his bid for re-election.

“He told the crowd to fight like hell. And all hell was unleashed,” President Biden said of the 2021 attack. “Then as usual he left the dirty work to others. He retreated to the White House.”

President Biden marked three years since the Jan 6, 2021, attacks with his first major campaign speech of the year, applying the heat on Trump as he pushes against questions about his handling of the US economy and his age, 81. Trump is 77 years old.

Whether President Biden’s Jan 5 speech will make an impact 10 months before Election Day – in a politically polarized country where voters get news and information from wildly different sources – remains to be seen.

But it set the tone and laid out the stakes of what is likely to be a bitter battle. President Biden characterized Trump and his followers as dangerous outliers and asked Democrats, independents and “mainstream Republicans” who cherish US democracy to back him.

“Democracy is on the ballot. Your freedom is on the ballot,” he said.

President Biden said Trump’s re-election bid is based on trying to seek “revenge and retribution” against his political enemies. He reminded Americans that Trump has called his opponents “vermin,” the “same exact language used in Nazi Germany.”

“How dare he? Who in God’s name does he think he is?“ said President Biden, lowering his voice to a whisper.

Trump, president from 2017 to 2021, who is leading the field for the Republican nomination for president, contested his defeat in the 2020 election, prompting thousands of his supporters to attack the US Capitol on Jan 6, 2021. The failed bid to stop formal certification of the result resulted in the deaths of five people and injured dozens of police officers.

President Biden also criticised Republicans for changing their tone on Trump, saying when the attacks of Jan 6 on the US Capitol took place, “there was no doubt about the truth” and that some Republican members of Congress and Fox News commentators had publicly and privately condemned the uprising.

“But now as time has gone on – politics, fear, money – have all intervened. And those MAGA voices who know the truth about Trump and January 6th have abandoned the truth and abandoned our democracy,” Biden said.

Republicans challenging Trump in the 2024 nominating contest have mostly steered clear of criticizing Trump’s actions on that day, as opinion polls show Republican voters are less likely to blame Trump for his actions on Jan 6 than they were three years ago.

Before his speech at a community college in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, President Biden took a tour of the Valley Forge site of George Washington’s Revolutionary War-era winter headquarters in the bitterly cold months of late 1777 and early 1778.

In his speech, Biden contrasted Trump’s bid to hang on to power to the example set by Washington, who stepped down willingly after two terms as he first US president.

Biden returned again and again to Jan 6, including a vivid description of what transpired that day, including protestors calling for the hanging of then-Vice President Mike Pence. People died because Trump’s lies “brought a mob to Washington,” he said.

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