In Washington, DC, one year ago, Trump supporters stormed the Capitol building following the then-President’s rally on the Ellipse outside the White House, where he cast doubt on the results of the 2020 presidential election.
The events of the day led to Trump’s second impeachment by the House of Representatives. The insurrection launched the largest investigation in FBI history, with 700 people arrested and hundreds more offenders still at large. And a House select committee continues to investigate the events leading up to the riots. Two Trump allies — Mark Meadows and Steve Bannon — have been held in criminal contempt for declining to cooperate with committee investigators after being subpoenaed.
On Capitol Hill, a series of events organized by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will take place following Biden’s speech to mark the January 6 anniversary, including a moment of silence on the House floor and testimonials from lawmakers about the harrowing attack.
During his speech at Statuary Hall inside the Capitol building, Biden is expected to “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 during Wednesday’s press briefing.
In a preview of the President’s remarks, Psaki said Biden will also “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.”
The events of the insurrection took place just two weeks before Biden’s inauguration, casting a shadow on the new President’s administration. And despite the slew of tossed out court cases, failed state election audits and countless debunked conspiracy claims, many Trump supporters have continued to doubt the legitimacy of Biden’s presidency.
Speaking about that violent day, which included five fatalities, the President is expected to discuss “the importance of history, of the peaceful transfer of power,” as well as what the United States needs “to do protect our own democracy and be forward looking.”
Biden will address “silence and complacency” among Republican lawmakers since January 6, as well as voting rights, Psaki said, noting that Trump “abused his office, undermined the Constitution and ignored his oath to the American people in an effort to amass more power for himself and his allies.”
Vice President Kamala Harris is also expected to deliver remarks on Thursday regarding the anniversary of the insurrection.
Harris expected to say “that the insurrection was not just an assault on our Capitol, but an assault on our freedom and values,” according to a White House official.
“The vice president will outline that the American experiment is being tested, and that we must work to secure voting rights, ensure free and fair elections, and safeguard our democracy for generations to come. She will also honor the brave men and women in law enforcement, who fought to uphold our democracy, protected the Capitol and saved the lives of the people who were there,” the official said in a statement.
While Trump was expected to hold a news conference scheduled for the anniversary of the insurrection, it was abruptly canceled. Allies had warned it would cause unnecessary problems for Republicans and himself.
Instead of his news conference on Thursday, Trump is expected to air his grievances at a campaign-style rally in Arizona next week.
Lawmakers and historians to commemorate anniversary
At the end of December, Pelosi announced a slate of events at the Capitol to mark the passage of a year since the deadly attack.
In a letter to Democrats, Pelosi wrote that the events “are intended as an observance of reflection, remembrance and recommitment, in a spirit of unity, patriotism and prayerfulness.”
At noon, there will be a prayer and a moment of silence on the House floor. Then a moderated conversation will take place featuring historians Doris Kearns Goodwin and Jon Meacham. Pelosi’s letter said that the discussion will serve “to establish and preserve the narrative of January 6.”
Afterward, lawmakers will have time to provide testimonials to “share their reflections of the day.” Colorado Democratic Rep. Jason Crow will preside over the testimonials. Crow was one of the lawmakers trapped inside the House chamber during the attack and was famously pictured crouched down in aid to a colleague who appeared to be in distress.
“Trauma, any trauma, impacts everybody,” Crow, a former Army Ranger, told CNN not long after the attack. “Nobody is immune to it and everybody responds to it differently.”
Later, a prayer vigil will be held on the center steps of the Capitol where House and Senate lawmakers can participate.
While congressional Democrats have put together a full day of events to bring attention to what happened during the insurrection, congressional Republicans, in contrast, have seemed reluctant to talk much about it and especially reluctant to address Trump’s role.
In a letter to House Republicans at the start of the new year, House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy briefly mentioned the January 6 anniversary, but did not include any mention of the former President.
“The actions of that day were lawless and as wrong as wrong can be. Our Capitol should never be compromised and those who broke the law deserve to face legal repercussions and full accountability,” he wrote.
McCarthy then pivoted to criticizing Democrats.
“Unfortunately, one year later, the majority party seems no closer to answering the central question of how the Capitol was left so unprepared and what must be done to ensure it never happens again. Instead, they are using it as a partisan political weapon to further divide our country,” he said.
GOP leaders won’t be in the Capitol on Thursday with the House out of session and a number of Republican senators heading to Georgia to attend a memorial service for the late Sen. Johnny Isakson.