White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki took questions from a limited pool of reporters on Wednesday about President Biden's upcoming Thursday speech on the one-year anniversary of the Capitol riot.
When asked what the American public could expect from that speech, Psaki said "The President is going to speak to the truth of what happened, not the lies that have been spread since, and the peril it posed to the rule of law and our system of democratic governance."
"He will also," she continued, "speak to the work we still need to do to strengthen our democracy and our institutions to reject the hatred and lies we saw on January 6 and to unite our country. I'd also note that President Biden has been clear-eyed about the threat the former president represents to our democracy and rule of law. And President Biden has, of course, spoke repeatedly about how the former president abused his office to undermine the constitution and ignore his oath to the American people in an effort to amass more power for himself and his allies."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has spent months on her Jan. 6 committee, chaired by Rep. Bennie Johnson, in trying to find evidence that former President Trump, in association with perhaps dozens of other people, successfully planned a coup to take place while he was still delivering a speech at DC's ellipse on Jan. 6, 2020.
To date, despite the request and delivery of countless documents and records to that committee, no evidence of prior planning has been found. The committee is still looking. The FBI concluded its investigation into the matter, saying that there was "scant evidence" of any prior planning of a riot at, and inside of, the Capitol building.
Republicans, who have also stated that they would like to get to the bottom of what happened on January 6, claim that Pelosi has been obstructionist in preventing them access to documents and records they requested as to the security measures that were in place on that day.
Biden, Psaki said, "sees January 6 as a tragic culmination of what those four years under President Trump did to our country and they reflected the importance to the president of winning what he has called many times, and you've heard him call many times, the battle for the soul of our nation."
"So just as you heard him say, on January 6 of last year, I would expect the President I will 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 and he will forcibly push back on the lies 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.
"So he will of course speak to the moment, the importance in history of the peaceful transfer of power, what we need to do to protect democracy and before but he also lacked on the role his predecessor had," Psaki said.
A reporter asked if Biden would name President Trump outright, and Psaki answered that "people will know who he's referring to."
NBC's Kristen Welker later asked how Biden was spending the day before the day he is to give a speech outlining how much he dislikes and disrespects the work of his predecessor.
Psaki said he was meeting with "policy teams," and that was a big part of his day today. She reassured the press that Biden is "very personally involved in what he's going to say" in his speech tomorrow, and that he was horrified at the events of last year, as constituents showed their intense displeasure with his ensuing presidency.
"What a dark day that was in our democracy," Psaki said, noting that "it hit Biden personally." For her part, Psaki said that she thinks "the role of the former president in this, the role of, and unfortunately, the silence and the complacency of a number of, far too many, not every, but far too many members of the Republican Party in the time since then, in perpetuating the 'Big Lie', has stuck with him as well. So I will say I would say that of course he's involved in the writing of any major speech he gives in feedback and conveying whether it's meeting the moment of what he wants to say, but certainly tomorrow, the significance of it is something that he feels personally about."
That riot has been a point of incessant conversation and hand-wringing from an American media that all but ignored an entire summer of riots and civil unrest in the wake of George Floyd's death at the hands of Minneapolis police in May 2020.
Biden's speech is likely to be chock-full of rhetorical flourishes and warnings about the threats to American democracy posed a year ago, when rioters failed to stop a vote certifying the 2020 presidential election in his favor. More than 700 people have been arrested in connection with the events of that gray, DC afternoon.
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