President Biden assailed former President Trump on Monday, accusing him of lacking “the courage to act” on Jan. 6, 2021, as a violent mob of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol.
Biden made the remarks in a virtual address to the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives conference that was aired Monday afternoon, days after the Jan. 6 committee heard testimony about Trump’s inaction as the mob overwhelmed the Capitol.
“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,” Biden said in the pre-recorded virtual remarks, which he delivered from the White House residence while in isolation due to his COVID-19 diagnosis.
“While he was doing that, brave law enforcement officers were subject to the medieval hell for three hours, dripping in blood, surrounded by carnage, face to face with the crazed mob that believed the lies of the defeated president,” Biden continued. “The police were heroes that day. Donald Trump lacked the courage to act.”
“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,” Biden added.
The remarks were striking particularly because Biden has kept his distance from the Jan.6 public hearings on Capitol Hill, rarely commenting on the investigation by the committee, which completed its eighth public hearing on Thursday and is set to resume them in the fall.
Biden’s words harkened back to some of the testimony delivered in last week’s hearing about Trump watching the Capitol attack unfold and rebuffing pleas from aides to intervene.
Biden also rarely mentions his predecessor – and especially avoids mentioning Trump by name.
Questioned later about the decision to mention Trump and whether it signaled a change in posture, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters that Biden has been clear that Trump bears responsibility for what happened on Jan. 6.
Biden delivered a speech on the anniversary of the Capitol attack earlier this year that included a forceful condemnation of Trump and his election falsehoods.
Still, Biden has largely avoided directly commenting on the Jan.6 committee’s findings so as not to politicize the issue. Sources also told The Hill that Biden does not want to appear to be influencing Justice Department decisions on any Jan. 6 investigations.
Asked Monday whether Biden had been briefed on any DOJinvestigations, Jean-Pierre stressed the agency’s independence in law enforcement decisions.
“They are independent when it comes to legal matters and we leave that to them,” Jean-Pierre said.
Biden’s speech on Monday, which also touched on other topics like his support for an assault weapons ban, came a day before Trump is scheduled to deliver his first speech in Washington, D.C., since leaving office.