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Politics Biden's presidency shadowed by the January 6 riot and Donald Trump a year later

01:55  06 january  2022
01:55  06 january  2022 Source:   cnn.com

Joe Biden's 2022 challenges revolve around Covid, Russia and dealing with Congress

  Joe Biden's 2022 challenges revolve around Covid, Russia and dealing with Congress President Joe Biden will return to the White House from an abbreviated winter break facing a set of hurdles that will test his political, diplomatic and management skills at a trying moment for his presidency. © Drew Angerer/Getty Images President Joe Biden speaks about the omicron variant of the coronavirus in the State Dining Room of the White House December 21, 2021 in Washington, DC. The raging pandemic, a crisis with Russia and uncertainty surrounding his prized domestic priorities all await Biden in the new year.

Two weeks before becoming president, Joe Biden watched the January 6 attack on television from his home in Delaware, horrified as the unspeakable images of the insurrection unfolded and aghast at the sitting President's unwillingness to condemn it.

a group of people standing in front of a building: WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: A large group of pro-Trump protesters stand on the East steps of the Capitol Building after storming its grounds on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. A pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol, breaking windows and clashing with police officers. Trump supporters gathered in the nation's capital today to protest the ratification of President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory over President Trump in the 2020 election. © Jon Cherry/Getty Images WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: A large group of pro-Trump protesters stand on the East steps of the Capitol Building after storming its grounds on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. A pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol, breaking windows and clashing with police officers. Trump supporters gathered in the nation's capital today to protest the ratification of President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory over President Trump in the 2020 election.

A year later, he'll mark that day with a speech designed to put into stark terms what the event meant for a nation still deeply split over its significance -- and to make clear his predecessor's role in eroding American democracy.

Shared history of January 6 is impeded by disinformation, denial and diversion

  Shared history of January 6 is impeded by disinformation, denial and diversion A version of this article first appeared in the "Reliable Sources" newsletter.In an earlier era, journalists might have made certain assumptions about the aftermath of a violent attack on the Capitol. They might have expected unanimous condemnation and calls for accountability. They might have anticipated that coverage of the aftermath would be a major story, one that Americans would follow with equal fervor, regardless of partisanship.

In his speech from the Capitol's Statuary Hall on Thursday, advisers said, the President intends to touch upon his deeply personal views of the assault on democracy and the attack on the hallowed Capitol building, where he spent nearly four decades during his time as a senator.

Biden worked over the holidays to write and refine an address that will be bluntly honest about the motivations and consequences of the riot, along with the threats to American democracy that still persist. It's a topic that drives Biden, according to officials, but one that hasn't played a central role in his public agenda. He has left investigating the riot to Congress and made clear he won't interject into the Justice Department's prosecution of its perpetrators.

Jan. 6 Capitol Riot Timeline: From Trump's First Tweet, Speech to Biden's Certification

  Jan. 6 Capitol Riot Timeline: From Trump's First Tweet, Speech to Biden's Certification The timeline of the Capitol riot has played a significant role in prosecutors' attempts to prove several defendants conspired to stop Joe Biden's victory from being certified.A year later after the event, the insurrection is being probed by the bipartisan House select committee. Amid the anniversary, some lawmakers continue to push for the passage of voting rights legislation while others argue that the alleged rioters are being unfairly detained as they await their upcoming trials.

Still, the January 6 riot has doggedly shadowed Biden's first year in office. The insurrection was unsuccessful in preventing him from becoming president, but it has instead become a persistent reminder of the divisions he once promised to heal and the fraught political environment in which he governs.

Biden has made attempts to bridge those divisions by doing what he can to move on. Even as many Democrats warn of troubling steps taken around the country that could potentially undermine future elections -- including installing loyalists to Donald Trump on election boards and changing local voting laws -- the President spent his first year in office prioritizing other legislative battles, including Covid relief money, an infrastructure bill and a large social and climate spending package that is still pending.

Mindful of not allowing Trump to hijack his presidency, Biden has made it a habit not to mention his predecessor by name, though he still does sometimes. He recently claimed, "I don't think about the former President."

Analysis: Joe Biden rediscovers his fighting spirit as he takes on Donald Trump

  Analysis: Joe Biden rediscovers his fighting spirit as he takes on Donald Trump In marking the anniversary of the Capitol insurrection, President Joe Biden rediscovered the sense of mission and political clarity that had disappeared when his presidency slumped during a cascade of crises in the second half of 2021. © DREW ANGERER/AFP/POOL/AFP via Getty Images US President Joe Biden speaks at the US Capitol on January 6, 2022, to mark the anniversary of the attack on the Capitol in Washington, DC. - Thousands of supporters of then-president Donald Trump stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021, in a bid to prevent the certification of Biden's election victory.

Yet Trump's influence has persisted, including in Congress where January 6 has become an enduring test of loyalty to the former President. While Trump canceled a news conference scheduled for Thursday at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, he continues to spread false information about the election at rallies and during media appearances.

Trump's false claims about the election and the riot continue to undermine Biden among Republicans around the country. This week, an NPR/Ipsos poll found two-thirds of Republicans agree that fraud helped Biden win -- a claim that has repeatedly been discredited.

'We have much to do'

One year ago on that January afternoon, Biden was two weeks away from being sworn in as president and was scheduled to give a speech on the economy. Those remarks were delayed for more than two hours as a paralyzed nation viewed the violence with horror and disbelief.

That day, Biden told one of his closest aides that his transition to power -- and likely his presidency -- had just become markedly more difficult.

It was a rare exception during his two months as president-elect when Biden directly raised Trump's name during a public speech, demanding he call off his loyal followers.

Democrats hail Biden for calling out Trump

  Democrats hail Biden for calling out Trump Democrats have been waiting for a year for President Biden to call out former President Trump for his claims about the 2020 presidential election and pinpoint the role Trump played in instigating his followers to "fight like hell" to contest the result. Standing in the Capitol on Thursday, Biden finally did just that.A widespread sentiment among Democrats has been that Biden hasn't been hard enough on Trump as the former president relentlessly accuses Democrats of rigging the election and making repeated claims about widespread voter fraud in which a variety of legal maneuvers and state certifications have failed to prove.

"At this hour, our democracy's under unprecedented assault, unlike anything we've seen in modern times. An assault on the citadel of liberty, the Capitol itself," Biden said, before imploring Trump "to fulfill his oath and defend the Constitution and demand an end to this siege."

Fourteen days later in his inaugural address, delivered from the very spot of the rampage, Biden sought to use the deadly riot as a teachable moment for the nation, striking an optimistic note that a divided nation could come together.

"We have much to do in this winter of peril and possibility," Biden said. "Much to repair, much to restore, much to heal."

On that day, memories of the Capitol breach were still fresh among the lawmakers and other officials who gathered on West Front. At the time, nerves in Washington were raw from the violence, razor-topped fencing surrounded the Capitol complex and 25,000 National Guardsmen were patrolling the city as fears of more violence persisted.

Since that moment, though, the lie undermining Biden's victory over Trump has grown beyond any expectation. The anniversary speech that Biden is set to deliver on Thursday is shaping up to be far more pointed.

"President Biden 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," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday. "And he will forcibly push back on the lie 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."

Analysis: Joe Biden confronts challenges to democracy at home and abroad this week

  Analysis: Joe Biden confronts challenges to democracy at home and abroad this week President Joe Biden's fresh vow to save democracy faces an immediate test at home and abroad this week, with a long-shot voting rights push and the most critical US diplomacy with Russia since the Cold War. © DREW ANGERER/AFP/POOL/AFP via Getty Images US President Joe Biden speaks at the US Capitol on January 6, 2022, to mark the anniversary of the attack on the Capitol in Washington, DC. - Thousands of supporters of then-president Donald Trump stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021, in a bid to prevent the certification of Biden's election victory.

A day that won't go away

As Biden nears the one-year mark of his presidency, the change in tone underscores one of the biggest surprises of the office: Trump, whom he defeated 306 to 232 electoral votes, looms far larger than the predecessor of any modern-day president.

The opening weeks of Biden's presidency shared a spotlight with Trump's second impeachment trial in the Senate, where the Republican was ultimately acquitted after Democrats accused him of inciting the riot at the Capitol.

In other ways, January 6 has continued to arise at regular intervals. The event has seeped into his diplomatic conversations. Biden has cited fellow world leaders who he says ask him regularly whether American democracy will survive its current strains: "Is America going to be all right?" he claims his counterparts ask him at foreign summits and over the phone.

When lawmakers were in the process of forming a committee to investigate the attack in the spring, Biden voiced support for the efforts but otherwise sought to put distance between himself and the process, insisting the decisions on the panel's makeup and mission were best left to members of Congress.

Biden and his team have generally rejected Trump's claims that all internal White House documents should be shielded by executive privilege. They have argued in legal letters it is "not in the best interests of the United States" for Trump's claims of executive privilege to stand.

Yet White House lawyers have also sought to keep a certain number of records the committee has requested from becoming public, arguing their release could harm national security. Those records had been the subject of negotiations between the top White House lawyer and the committee and were an indication of the inherent tension between two different branches of government.

Analysis: Joe Biden puts it all on the line in voting rights battle

  Analysis: Joe Biden puts it all on the line in voting rights battle It took a year for Joe Biden to make an irrevocable bet that puts the credibility of his presidency on the line. If his bid now to change Senate rules to pass voting rights legislation fails, he'll lose more than just the bills he sees as vital to saving democracy. His drained political capital could spell the end of the entire domestic, legislative phase of his administration. © Patrick Semansky/AP President Joe Biden speaks in support of changing the Senate filibuster rules that have stalled voting rights legislation, at Atlanta University Center Consortium, on the grounds of Morehouse College and Clark Atlanta University, Tuesday, Jan.

Biden himself has weighed in only sporadically on the proceedings. After saying in October that he thought the Justice Department should prosecute former Trump aide Steve Bannon for failing to comply with a committee subpoena, Biden said it was not appropriate for him to have voiced his opinion.

Last month, he said former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows was "worthy of being held in contempt" for similarly failing to appear for a deposition.

Behind the scenes, Biden has been kept abreast of the committee's work but isn't focused intensely on it, according to aides. He has placed greater importance on strengthening voter protections and ensuring future elections aren't subject to false challenges.

Democrats are looking to use the January 6 anniversary as a launching point to advance voting rights legislation, which has been stalled for the past year. Activists are pushing for Biden to reorient his strategy in the new year to pass something by the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday in mid-January. Doing so would likely require altering Senate rules to overcome Republican opposition.

White House officials say Biden will touch on voting rights in his speech Thursday, but intends to address the topic in a far more substantive way next week during a trip to Atlanta, the cradle of the civil rights movement. He and Vice President Kamala Harris are set to visit Georgia on Tuesday.

Man charged with storming Capitol made rap videos about riot .
A man charged this week with storming the U.S. Capitol last year performed rap songs about the riot in videos posted on his YouTube channel, federal authorities say. A relative told the FBI that Billy Knutson was a rapper who sold his music online and has a YouTube channel under the username "Playboythebeast," an FBI agent said in a court filing. Knutson said on social media that he was at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and posted photos of himself outside the building, the relative said. One of the songs on Knutson's YouTube channel is called “Patriots: Message To The World” and has more than 60,000 views.

usr: 1
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