President Joe Biden has released a blistering, partisan statement blasting Donald Trump for spreading “lies” and fomenting “extremism” that threatened the existence of America’s very democracy.
After Republicans acquitted Trump of a second impeachment on Saturday, Biden said there is no question that his predecessor is “guilty” of inciting an “insurrection” at the Capitol last month, according to reports.
Partisan attack on Trump
Seven Republicans crossed party lines to convict Trump, not enough to bar him from seeking office again. Democrats insisted that Trump be disqualified from office forever, but his allies had fired back that Democrats were driven by partisanship and were simply afraid he could still win the presidency back.
Biden’s support of Trump’s impeachment led critics to accuse him of undermining his pledge to “unite” the country, and his statement certainly evinced some frustration and anxiety with the acquittal, however unsurprising the result might have been.
Biden was of one mind with Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) — who said that Trump was “practically and morally” responsible for the riot despite voting to acquit Trump — with Biden insisting that Trump’s “guilt” was not up for debate.
“While the final vote did not lead to a conviction, the substance of the charge is not in dispute,” Biden said in his statement.
“Even those opposed to the conviction, like Senate Minority Leader McConnell, believe Donald Trump was guilty of a ‘disgraceful dereliction of duty’ and ‘practically and morally responsible for provoking’ the violence unleashed on the Capitol,” the president continued.
Critics also observed that Biden began the statement with a misleading reference to Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, whose death was wrongly reported by The New York Times as having been caused by Trump supporters beating him to death with a fire extinguisher.
The paper retracted the claim this weekend, but it nevertheless was ubiquitous in media coverage for weeks as Democrats ramped up pressure to impeach.
As he often does, Biden veered sharply from attacking Trump as an existential threat to democracy to making an appeal to national “unity,” even underlining the word “United” in “United States of America” in case anyone missed the point.
“This sad chapter in our history has reminded us that democracy is fragile. That it must always be defended. That we must be ever vigilant. That violence and extremism has no place in America,” he said.
“And that each of us has a duty and responsibility as Americans, and especially as leaders, to defend the truth and to defeat the lies,” Biden concluded.