Biden accuses Trump of ‘assault on democracy’ and says ‘it’s what he’s promising for the future’ – as it happened – The Guardian US

9 minutes, 34 seconds Read

Joe Biden has warned that Donald Trump plans to launch an “assault on democracy” if returned to the White House.

“Trump’s assault on democracy isn’t just part of his past. It’s what he’s promising for the future. He’s been straightforward. He’s not hiding the ball,” the president said.

“His first rally for the 2024 campaign opened with a choir of January 6 insurrectionists singing from prison on cellphone, while images of the January 6 riot playing on the big screen behind him,” Biden continued. “This is like something out of a fairy tale.”

He continued: “Trump began his 2024 campaign by glorifying the failed violent insurrection … on our Capitol. The guy who claims law and order stands for lawlessness and disorder. Trump’s not concerned about your future, I promise you. Trump is now promising a full scale campaign of revenge and retribution, his words, for some years to come.”

Today, Biden delivered an impassioned speech ahead of the third anniversary of January 6. Speaking at Montgomery County Community College in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, near Valley Forge, Biden asked the question, “is democracy still America’s sacred cause?”, underscoring his 2024 campaign’s theme of the importance of preserving democracy.

In his speech, Biden also condemned all forms of political violence, recounting not just the 6 Jan insurrection, when the US capitol was attacked by an angry mob ahead of Biden’s inauguration, but other incidents such as the 2022 attack on Paul Pelosi, the husband of former Democratic house speaker Nanci Pelosi, who was beat with a hammer in their San Francisco home.

“Political violence is never, ever acceptable in the United States,” Biden said. “It has no place in a democracy. You can’t be pro-insurrectionist and pro-American.”


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  • Due to his role in the 6 January insurrection, Trump has been removed from GOP primary ballots in two states: Colorado and Maine. But conservative supreme court justice Brett Kavanaugh will “step up” for the former president against efforts to remove him from ballots, a Trump lawyer has said. On Friday, the US supreme court agreed to consider whether Trump could be deemed ineligible to run for federal office again because of his actions. Trump remains the Republican frontrunner in national polls ahead of Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley.

  • Ahead of his trial on corruption charges, the longtime National Rifle Association head Wayne LaPierre will leave his post, the gun rights association announced on Friday. LaPierre and other executives stand accused of illegally diverting tens of millions of dollars from the NRA and spending organization funds on personal trips and other questionable expenditures.

  • The Iowa caucus is a mere 10 days away. In an interview following an Iowa town hall with NBC’s Dasha Burns and the Des Moines Register, the Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley expressed regret yet again for botching answers to questions about race. First, she apologized for not mentioning slavery when discussing the civil war in a town hall earlier this week. But in her apology, she said she assumed slavery was a given in any conversation about the civil war and that she “had Black friends growing up”. Burns told Haley her response was criticized as tokenism or a trope. The issue brought to the forefront the role race will play in this election. Not only would Haley be the first female president, but the first south Asian president.

That’s it for this liveblog. Thanks for reading.

In the same NBC interview, Haley was questioned on botching her responses to questions surrounding race.

Haley again made clear she should have mentioned slavery when answering a question about the US civil war posed to her in a town hall earlier this week, rather than saying the war was primarily about “the role of government and what the rights of the people are”.

In a CNN town hall after the incident, Haley slipped up again. Backtracking on her previous comments about the civil war, Haley said: “I should have said slavery right off the bat. When you grow up in South Carolina, literally in second and third grade, you learn about slavery. You grow up and you have – I had Black friends growing up.”

Haley’s comments were condemned as tokenism.

When asked about the two gaffes in conversation about race, Haley told NBC’s Dasha Burns “how hard it was to grow up in the deep south a as a brown girl”.

She recalled the isolating experience of being the only Indian family to grow up in their small town in South Carolina. She recounted a story when she was excluded from a beauty pageant for not being white or Black.

“Saying that I had Black friends is a source of pride.”

Historically a fervent supporter of the former president, it’s a sharp turn from Haley’s position in recent years.

In 2021, Haley said she would not run against Trump in the 2024 presidential election. Haley said she had “a great working relationship” with Trump when she was his envoy to the UN.

But today, the story is different. This week, Haley told an Iowa audience that Trump would bring “four more years of chaos” and that the US “won’t survive” another Trump term.

In an interview on NBC’s Meet the Press, Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley was told her home state of South Carolina is “Trump country”, according to polls.

Haley disagrees. “If you want to say Trump is going to win South Carolina, I’m fighting to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

Asked if she thinks she will survive this race if she loses, Haley responds confidently: “I will survive and win this race.”

Haley made it clear that she doesn’t want Trump removed from ballots and wants to beat him “fair and square”. So far, Trump has been removed from GOP primary ballots in two states – Colorado and Maine.

“I want to beat him because I don’t think he’s the right person to go forward.”

After Joe Biden finished his remarks, Jill Biden came out on stage to give him a hug.

“I understand power,” the president said into the microphone, with a smile. The couple lingered on stage for a few minutes and then departed.

As he concluded his speech, Joe Biden depicted Donald Trump as an ordeal the country must make its way through.

“This the first national election since the January 6 insurrection placed a dagger in the throat of American democracy, since that moment. We all know Donald Trump is a question we have to answer … that’s what’s at stake. In your head, as you talk to your family and friends, cast your ballots, the power is in your hands,” Biden said.

“There’s no country in the world better positioned to lead the world than America. That’s why I’ve said it many times. That’s why I’ve never been more optimistic about our future and I’ve been doing this a hell of a long time,” said Biden, who, at 81, is the oldest president ever to serve.

Joe Biden is now shifting away from directly attacking Donald Trump to outlining his own policies, saying he will prioritize defending democracy for the rest of his presidency.

“I make this sacred pledge to you. The defense, protection, preservation of American democracy will remain, as it has been, a central cause of my presidency,” Biden said.

He continued:

America, as we began this election year, we must be clear: Democracy is on the ballot. Your freedom is on the ballot. Yes, we’ll be voting on many issues and the freedom to vote and have your vote counted. The freedom of choice. Freedom to have a fair shot. A freedom from fear. We will debate, disagree. Without democracy, no progress is possible. Think about it. The alternative to democracy is dictatorship.

Joe Biden has warned that Donald Trump plans to launch an “assault on democracy” if returned to the White House.

“Trump’s assault on democracy isn’t just part of his past. It’s what he’s promising for the future. He’s been straightforward. He’s not hiding the ball,” the president said.

“His first rally for the 2024 campaign opened with a choir of January 6 insurrectionists singing from prison on cellphone, while images of the January 6 riot playing on the big screen behind him,” Biden continued. “This is like something out of a fairy tale.”

He continued: “Trump began his 2024 campaign by glorifying the failed violent insurrection … on our Capitol. The guy who claims law and order stands for lawlessness and disorder. Trump’s not concerned about your future, I promise you. Trump is now promising a full scale campaign of revenge and retribution, his words, for some years to come.”

Biden reminded voters of the 2022 attack on Paul Pelosi, husband of the then Democratic speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

“Trump and his Maga supporters not only embrace political violence, but they laugh about,” Biden said. At his rally, he jokes about an intruder whipped up by the big Trump lie, taking a hammer to Paul Pelosi’s skull and echoing the very same word used on January 6 … he thinks that’s funny.”

After recounting the violence of January 6 and Donald Trump’s failure to overturn his election victory, Joe Biden issued a strong denouncement of political violence.

“Trump won’t do what an American president must do. He refuses to denounce political violence,” Biden said. “Political violence is never, ever acceptable in the United States.”

“It has no place in a democracy,” he continued. “You can’t be pro-insurrectionist and pro-American.”

In previous months, Biden’s speeches have focused on his administration’s accomplishments.

This speech, his first of the year, marks a change in tack, with the president taking direct aim at Donald Trump, who polls show has a commanding lead for the Republican presidential nomination.

“His lies brought a mob to Washington,” Biden said, continuing to attack the former president for inciting the January 6 attack. “He promised it would be wild and it was. He told the crowd to fight like hell, and all hell was unleashed. He promised … everything they did, he would be side by side with them. Then as usual, he left the dirty work to others and retreated to the White House.”

Joe Biden opened his campaign speech in Pennsylvania by remembering the severity of the January 6 attack, before shifting to a pointed attack on Donald Trump.

“Today we gathered in a new year … just one day before January 6, a day forever seared in our memory because it was on that day when we nearly lost America,” the president said. He continued:

Today, we’re here to answer the most important questions. Is democracy still America’s sacred cause? This is not rhetorical, academic or hypothetical. If democracy is still America’s sacred cause is the most urgent question of our time.

And it’s what the 2024 election is all about. The choice is clear. Donald Trump’s campaign is about him, not America, not you. Donald Trump’s campaign is obsessed with the past, not the future. He’s willing to sacrifice our democracy to put himself in power.”

Joe Biden, alongside the first lady, Jill Biden, have taken the stage in Pennsylvania to chants of “four more years!”

The speech is the first of his re-election campaign this year, and is expected to cast Donald Trump as a threat to American democracy.

We’ll cover it live here.

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