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January 6th: One year on

Arun Kohli analyses the response from Biden and Harris to the January 6th insurrection one year on

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Image Credit: Tyler Merbler

6 January 2022 marked the one-year anniversary of the insurrection of the United States Capitol. Over a year since scenes emerged of protestors and Trump supporters raided the Capitol building, demanding the results of the 2020 Presidential election were fraudulent and that they should not be certified, key American politicians have spoken out.

On the anniversary of the event President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, neither of whom had been sworn in at the time of the insurrection, gave a speech on Capitol Hill. Both called the former President out and those who took part in the raid on the building that has been the pillar of American democracy and government for centuries.

Speaking first, Vice President Kamala Harris actively compared the events of 6 January to those that took place on 11 September 2001 and the bombing of Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1947, stating that much like other momentous days in history, everyone will remember where they were on 6 January. Her powerful and moving speech continued noting the effects that ‘extremists’ can have on democracy and that “we all saw what our nation would look like if the forces that seek to dismantle our democracy are successful”.

Harris moved on to note that the “strength of democracy is that it empowers the people” but if not protected “democracy will falter and fail”. Almost a year on from the inauguration of Biden and Harris, many Trump supporters have still not accepted the results of the election despite numerous judges dismissing cases relating to voter fraud and irregularities across the nation, many of which were conservative judges appointed by Trump. The sombreness of Harris’ speech has had a significant impact on pundits and voters alike in recent days who have lauded the speech for its powerful and moving tone.

After a tumultuous first year in office and abysmal approval ratings recently, positive press for Kamala Harris only works to strengthen the administration. The former lawyer and Attorney General for California has been described as less than impressive in her position as Vice President in a major blow for her future presidential ambitions. Harris was once seen as the successor to Joe Biden should he not run in 2024 but with endless poor media coverage and an electorate tired of inaction on Covid and migration, Harris is slowly falling onto the sword for the administration.

After Harris’ seven-minute speech, President Joe Biden took to the stage to deliver what ultimately was his first big address of the year. Much like his second-in-command, Biden highlighted the importance of upholding the democratic process despite the events that took place on that now infamous day last year. Biden went on to say, in what was perhaps his most touching section of his speech, that “our constitution faced the gravest of threats, outnumbered in the face of brutal attacks [law enforcement individuals] saved the rule of law”.

Staying true to his religious upbringing and the faith that has guided his life ever since, Biden made clear that what happened on 6 January is God’s truth and that everyone watching the events of the day saw the facts and the truth. He also made reference to the American Civil War and said despite all of the division and partisanship during that period of American history, what happened within that Capitol last year never happened during the Civil War but “it happened here in 2021”.

President Biden has recently ramped up his campaign against Donald Trump as he works to win back the hearts and minds of Americans, many of whom are becoming more discontent with his first year in office. The 79-year-old President has not only been scrutinised for his lack of a way forward in the Covid pandemic but also for his inability to rally the Democratic Party around key legislation he needs in order to move the country forward and get his agenda off its training wheels.

In complete contradiction to the sombre mood that characterised Biden’s address, Donald Trump released four statements that same day hitting out at the President and his Covid policies as well as his administration and the Democratic Party who he accuses of “own[ing] the day of January 6th so they can stoke fears and divide America”. Trump, who was supposed to be speaking at Mar-a-Lago, his private residence, pulled out at the last minute after reported backlash from Senate Republicans as well as senior advisors to the former President.

Despite Donald Trump’s denials and trying to place the blame on the Democratic Party, the insurrection of 6 January has resulted in a successful House Select Committee which ended with the former Presidential advisor Steve Bannon getting indicted by a Grand Jury. Moreover, it was reported that  the committee will recommended to the United States Department of Justice to open an investigation into the involvement of Donald Trump. Even worse for Trump, former Vice President Mike Pence, who was caught up in the insurrection, will be seen as a key witness and ally of the investigation should one take place into the former President which will do no favours in helping reunite the Republican Party in the midterms and the 2024 election.

The investigation and Senate Republicans becoming tired with Trump’s conspiracy that the election was stolen from him will have a significant impact on the 45th President as it is looking increasingly likely that he will for the fourth time in his life run for the presidency in 2024. With the current President’s justice department also looking likely to investigate Donald Trump, the two look set to fight it out both through the judicial process and the election process.

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