A Year Later: Biden Administration Reflects on Capitol Attack

On Thursday, January 6, 2022, President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke on the anniversary of the Capitol insurrection, an event that shocked a weary nation and astonished a watching world, as rioters plotted a last-minute violent coup attempt in order to keep former president Donald Trump in office after he decisively lost the 2020 Presidential election.

One year ago, the United States Capitol building suffered the worst attack since the War of 1812. Insurrectionists called for the hanging of then-Vice President Mike Pence and the capture of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. No members or officials were harmed, but a few rioters and Capitol police officer Brian Sicknick were killed due to injuries sustained during the assault. A handful of Capitol police officers were also severely wounded, and some committed suicide as a result of emotional trauma suffered on that day. The insurrectionists headed to the Capitol, after being commanded to do so by Trump, who spoke at a rally just before the attack. A week after the insurrection, Trump was impeached for the second time by the House of Representatives, making him the first and only president to have been so. Though attempts have been made to investigate the attack in a bipartisan and bicameral manner, Republicans have shot down those efforts, leading to the creation of the January 6th Committee, which was executively established by Speaker Pelosi and has issued a variety of subpoenas in the months since. The Department of Justice has also been involved in these investigations, and Attorney General Merrick Garland recommitted to the notion of punishing those involved with the insurrection on the eve of the anniversary.

On Thursday, President Biden issued a stark and staggeringly forceful repudiation of both the insurrectionists and Trump, inferring at one point that the former president wielded a “dagger at the throat of democracy,” and that Trump spread a “web of lies” across America in the run-up to, and since the insurrection. The President made sure to end his speech with one of his signature phrases from his 2020 Presidential campaign, exclaiming that we are once again in a “battle for the soul of America.” Vice President Harris compared the day to others that will forever have a hallowed spot on the American calendar, including September 11 and December 7, and called for the American people to ensure that such an event never occurs again. Both President Biden and Vice President Harris delivered their remarks from Statuary Hall, one of the rooms where rioters stormed, looted and vandalized relentlessly one year ago. Schumer, in a Senate chamber full of Democrats, but without even one Republican attending the anniversary, said that a sign that democracy is in danger “often starts with a mob.” Speaker Pelosi added in her remarks repeatedly that the attack “failed,” and that the American system held thanks to the bravery of all those involved in the democratic process. Soon after her remarks, the House conducted a moment of silence with only one Republican member in attendance, Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, who was joined by her father Dick Cheney, the former Vice President. In all of their remarks, the leaders thanked the United States Capitol Police members for their bravery and sacrifice and asked that the Senate pass voting rights legislation, which the leaders hail as a response to countless restrictive laws passed in Republican-controlled state legislatures across the country, including Texas and Georgia. The leaders pointed to these newly-implemented laws as symptoms of the same disease, denial of the 2020 Presidential election results, that caused the riot one year ago.