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Biden to call Trump a threat to democracy on US Capitol attack anniversary

The windows that were shattered when thousands
of rioters stormed the white-domed building on Jan 6, 2021, have been repaired,
the lawmakers and staff who fled for their lives have returned to work and the
miles of protective fencing have come down.

But Biden, his fellow Democrats and a few of
the former president’s fellow Republicans warn that the damage he did before
the riot – in a fiery speech in which he falsely claimed that his loss was the
result of widespread fraud – lingers on.

According to Reuters/Ipsos polling, some 55%
of Republican voters believe Trump’s false claim, which was rejected by dozens
of courts, state election departments and members of Trump’s own
administration.

Biden will address that issue in remarks at
the Capitol.

“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?” Biden will say, according to excerpts of his
speech released by the White House. “We cannot allow ourselves to be that
kind of nation. The way forward is to recognize the truth and to live by
it.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on
Wednesday said that while the Capitol building is better fortified than it was
a year ago, democracy remains vulnerable.

“The insurrection will not be an
aberration. It well could become the norm” unless Congress addresses
“the root causes” of Jan 6 through election reforms, Democrat Schumer
said.

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Four people died in the hours-long chaos,
while one police officer died the day after battling rioters and four later
died by suicide. Around 140 police officers were injured.

One of the officers at the scene, Sergeant
Harry Dunn of the Capitol Police, said the attack took an emotional toll.

“You cannot get away from Jan 6 even if
you’re trying to. It’s everywhere, especially if it’s your place of work,”
Dunn said in a phone interview. “Accountability needs to be had, no matter
who that comes at. I don’t care who it is.”

Biden’s remarks will begin a day-long series
of events that will also feature House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi
and other legislative leaders, mostly from Biden’s Democratic Party. They will
highlight the lingering damage from the worst attack on the Capitol since the
War of 1812.

Biden’s comments will be “clear eyed
about the threat the former president represents to our democracy and how the
former president constantly works to constantly undermine basic American values
and rule of law,” White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said on Wednesday.

The House will not be in session and many
Senate Republicans will be out of state attending the funeral of former
Republican Senator Johnny Isakson.

‘BIG LIE’ TAKES ROOT

Some observers say they worry Trump’s false
claims could make it less likely that future transfers of power will be
peaceful – especially those involving closer margins than 2020, which Biden won
by 7 million votes.

“The fact that the Big Lie has taken root
the way it has, and that it’s intensified and worsened over the past 12 months,
that’s even more dangerous than Jan. 6 itself,” said Ohio State University
law professor Edward Foley.

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Trump remains highly popular among Republican
voters. He has been shaping the field of Republican candidates who will contest
the Nov. 8 elections that will determine which party controls Congress and has
repeatedly hinted he may run for the White House again in 2024.

On Tuesday, Trump cancelled plans to mark the
anniversary with a news conference, where he had been expected to repeat his
false claims. He plans to speak instead on Jan. 15 at a rally in Arizona.

Most Republican officials and officeholders
have remained loyal to Trump. Even after the attack, more than half of
Republican lawmakers voted against certifying his defeat, and only a handful
supported his impeachment.

Those who have called for accountability,
including Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, have been shunned by
their colleagues. The two are the only Republicans participating in a
congressional investigation that has interviewed more than 300 witnesses so
far, including top Trump aides.

US prosecutors have brought criminal charges
against at least 725 people linked to the riot, though so far they have not
charged Trump or his associates.

Some Republican lawmakers have sought to play
down the attack by likening the rioters to tourists and questioning whether the
assault was perpetrated by federal agents. Others have accused Democrats of
over-reacting.

“The most surprising outcome — and the
day’s true legacy – was the left’s attempt to use the Capitol unrest to foster
a permanent climate of fear and repression,” Republican Senator Josh
Hawley wrote on Fox News.

Democrats have used the anniversary to push a
broad voting-rights bill that they say is needed to counteract Republican
efforts to tighten laws at the state level. So far they have been unable to
round up enough support to ensure passage in the Senate.

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But Democrats say they cannot heal the wounds
of Jan. 6 unless Republicans take steps to rebuild confidence in the machinery
of democracy.

“When we look back generations from now,
will the insurrection be viewed as a turning point, a time when we reaffirmed
our commitment to democracy, or will it be viewed as a precursor to further
attacks?” Wisconsin state attorney general Josh Kaul said on a media call
on Wednesday.

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