Biden Lashes Trump Over Jan. 6, Saying He ‘Lacked the Courage to Act’

WASHINGTON — President Biden on Monday denounced former President Donald J. Trump’s refusal to decisively intervene to stop the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, declaring that his predecessor “lacked the courage to act” and betrayed the police officers he claimed to support.

Mr. Biden, who has largely avoided discussing the former president or the Jan. 6 investigation by a House select committee,weighed in during a statement to an organization representing Black law enforcement leaders.

“The police were heroes that day,” the president said in the videotaped remarks from the White House residence, where he is recovering from Covid-19. “Donald Trump lacked the courage to act. The brave women and men in blue all across this nation should never forget that. You can’t be pro-insurrection and pro-cop. You can’t be pro-insurrection and pro-democracy. You can’t be pro-insurrection and pro-American.”

The president’s comments came just four days after the House committee wrapped up its string of summer hearings with a prime-time meeting outlining Mr. Trump’s inaction as the mob of his supporters stormed the Capitol in an effort to stop the counting of the Electoral College vote sealing his re-election defeat. Mr. Trump did not call his vice president, his defense secretary, his military chief, his attorney general, his homeland security secretary or anyone else to dispatch help to the Capitol that day.

Instead, testimony showed, Mr. Trump spent the afternoon watching the violence unfold on Fox News and resisting aides who kept imploring him to take action. A call from a Pentagon official to coordinate a response initially went unanswered because “the president didn’t want anything done,” according to a White House lawyer whose account was presented during the hearing. The tweets and video he ultimately did issue did not condemn the attack and in some cases seemed to add fuel to the fire.

Key Revelations From the Jan. 6 Hearings

Card 1 of 9

Making a case against Trump. The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack is laying out evidence that could allow prosecutors to indict former President Donald J. Trump, though the path to a criminal trial is uncertain. Here are the main themes that have emerged so far:

An unsettling narrative. During the first hearing, the committee described in vivid detail what it characterized as an attempted coup orchestrated by the former president that culminated in the assault on the Capitol. At the heart of the gripping story were three main players: Mr. Trump, the Proud Boys and a Capitol Police officer.

Creating election lies. In its second hearing, the panel showed how Mr. Trump ignored aides and advisers as he declared victory prematurely and relentlessly pressed claims of fraud he was told were wrong. “He’s become detached from reality if he really believes this stuff,” William P. Barr, the former attorney general, said of Mr. Trump during a videotaped interview.

Pressuring Pence. Mr. Trump continued pressuring Vice President Mike Pence to go along with a plan to overturn his loss even after he was told it was illegal, according to testimony laid out by the panel during the third hearing. The committee showed how Mr. Trump’s actions led his supporters to storm the Capitol, sending Mr. Pence fleeing for his life.

Fake elector plan. The committee used its fourth hearing to detail how Mr. Trump was personally involved in a scheme to put forward fake electors. The panel also presented fresh details on how the former president leaned on state officials to invalidate his defeat, opening them up to violent threats when they refused.

Strong arming the Justice Dept. During the fifth hearing, the panel explored Mr. Trump’s wide-ranging and relentless scheme to misuse the Justice Department to keep himself in power. The panel also presented evidence that at least half a dozen Republican members of Congress sought pre-emptive pardons.

The surprise hearing. Cassidy Hutchinson, ​​a former White House aide, delivered explosive testimony during the panel’s sixth session, saying that the president knew the crowd on Jan. 6 was armed, but wanted to loosen security. She also painted Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, as disengaged and unwilling to act as rioters approached the Capitol.

Planning a march. Mr. Trump planned to lead a march to the Capitol on Jan. 6 but wanted it to look spontaneous, the committee revealed during its seventh hearing. Representative Liz Cheney also said that Mr. Trump had reached out to a witness in the panel’s investigation, and that the committee had informed the Justice Department of the approach.

A “complete dereliction” of duty. In the final public hearing of the summer, the panel accused the former president of dereliction of duty for failing to act to stop the Capitol assault. The committee documented how, over 187 minutes, Mr. Trump had ignored pleas to call off the mob and then refused to say the election was over even a day after the attack.

Mr. Trump and his allies have no role in the committee’s proceedings because Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the House Republican leader, opted against appointing anyone to the panel after Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejected a couple of his initial choices. The president has not otherwise rebutted the account of his refusal to act that day.

But his political action committee did post an article on Monday recalling a Pentagon inspector general report last November noting that Mr. Trump told his defense secretary three days before Jan. 6 that there would be many protesters coming and he should ensure there was enough security to make it a safe event.

As the hearings have played out, Mr. Biden has mostly not commented, much less addressed Mr. Trump by name, focusing instead on his own agenda. But some Democrats have been disappointed that he has been so quiet on the matter.

Mr. Biden seemed not at all reticent in Monday’s remarks to the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, delivered from a lectern with the presidential seal and with an American flag behind him.

“On Jan. 6, we relied on law enforcement to save our democracy,” the president said. “We saw what happened. The Capitol Police, the D.C. Metropolitan Police, other law enforcement agencies were attacked and assaulted before our very eyes. Speared, sprayed, stomped on, brutalized. Lives were lost. And for three hours, the defeated former president of the United States watched it all happen as he sat in the comfort of the private dining room next to the Oval Office.”

“While he was doing that,” Mr. Biden added, “brave law enforcement officers were subject to the medieval hell for three hours, dripping in blood, surrounded by carnage, face to face with a crazed mob that believed the lies of the defeated president.”

Back to top button