"The former president of the United States of America has created and spread a web of lies about the 2020 election."
U.S. President Joe Biden on Thursday used the one-year anniversary of a deadly attack on Congress to offer a direct and unequivocal condemnation of the lies spread by his predecessor that fueled the insurrection of January 6th, 2021.
"For the first time in our history, a president had not just lost an election, he tried to prevent the peaceful transfer of power."
In remarks from inside the Capitol, Biden painted a picture of a former president whose rhetoric left a legacy that posed a continuing threat to American democracy.
"Are we going to be a nation that accepts political violence as a norm? [flash] are we going to be a nation that lives not by the light of the truth, but in the shadow of lies?"
On January 6, 2021, thousands Donald Trump supporters laid siege to Congress, attacking police and rampaging through the halls in an effort to prevent lawmakers from certifying the results of the 2020 presidential election.
Four people died in the hours-long chaos a year ago, which occurred after Trump urged supporters to march to the Capitol and "fight like hell."
"And if you don't fight like hell, you're not going to have a country anymore."
Biden, a Democrat, who spent the first year of his presidency largely avoiding discussing his Republican predecessor, on Thursday leveled a full-bore condemnation of Trump for the violence of the riot, in starkly personal terms.
"He sees his own interest as more important than his country's interest, th an America's interest. And because his bruised ego matters more to him than our democracy or our constitution."
Trump in a statement issued after the speech said that Biden "used my name today to try to further divide America."
According to Reuters/Ipsos polling, some 55% of Republican voters believe Trump's false claim of election fraud.
Many independent observers have warned that the damage done by Trump's efforts to undermine faith in the election he lost to Biden lingers on.
"I did not seek this fight."
Biden on Thursday pledged to defend democracy.
"I will stand in this breach."
In a bid for national unity, Biden described America not divided between Democrats and Republicans vying for control, but between the millions of voters who turned out in record numbers to cast ballots in a free and fair election, and those who on Jan 6 sought to overturn the results.