By Trevor Hunnicutt and Jarrett Renshaw
WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden will mark the one-year anniversary of the deadly January 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol by Donald Trump’s followers with a speech on Thursday warning of the threats to democracy, while Trump abandoned plans for a news conference that day as he reprised his attacks on Democrats and the media.
The White House said Biden would push back against Trump’s false claims, adopted by many of his followers, that his election defeat was the result of widespread fraud, as well as attempts to downplay the violence of the worst assault on the Capitol since the War of 1812.
“The president is going to speak to the truth of what happened, not the lies that some have spread since, and the peril it has posed to the rule of law and our system of democratic governance,” White House spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters on Tuesday, in the first preview of Biden’s remarks.
Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will speak Thursday morning at the U.S. Capitol, one year after thousands of Trump supporters raided the complex in a failed attempt to stop the counting of Electoral College votes by lawmakers that officially delivered the Democratic president’s election victory.
Trump on Tuesday canceled a news conference at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida that had been scheduled for Jan. 6, saying he would address many of the same topics at a rally in Arizona on Jan. 15 instead.
It was not clear why Trump canceled the news conference, which had originally been announced on Dec. 21. In a statement, Trump blamed what he called the “bias and dishonesty” of the House of Representatives probe of Jan. 6, as well as the news media, a favorite target.
The Jan. 6 anniversary comes as Trump continues to fight to block the release of White House records sought by the House committee investigating the attack.
Trump, some fellow Republicans and right-wing media personalities have pushed false accounts to downplay the Jan. 6 attack, calling it a non-violent protest or blaming left-wing activists.
Four people died on the day of the riot, and one Capitol police officer died the day after defending Congress. Dozens of police were injured during the multi-hour onslaught by Trump supporters, and four officers have since taken their own lives.
Psaki was asked what the president’s message will be to the many Republicans who believe Biden stole the election from Trump, despite overwhelming contrary evidence.
“What he’s going to continue to do is speak to everyone in the country. Those who didn’t vote for him, those who may not believe he is the legitimate president, about what he wants to do to make their lives better,” she said.
The White House is struggling to get voting rights legislation through the U.S. Senate that would counter new laws in Republican-led states that Democrats say would limit left-leaning voters. Two sources told Reuters that Biden and Harris do not plan to use the Jan. 6 event to push for voting rights legislation.