President-elect Joe Biden called the mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol while Congress met to certify his election a group of “domestic terrorists” who would have been treated much more harshly if they represented Black Lives Matter.
“No one can tell me that if it had been a group of Black Lives Matter protesting yesterday, they wouldn’t have been treated very, very differently from the mob of thugs that stormed the Capitol. We all know that’s true and it is unacceptable. Totally unacceptable,” Biden said, jabbing his finger on the lectern from which he spoke in Wilmington, Delaware.
“They were a riotous mob. Domestic terrorists. It’s that basic. It’s that simple. I wish we could say we couldn’t see it coming,” he said.
Biden spoke at an event in Wilmington to announce his nominee for attorney general, Merrick Garland, as well as his other picks for top Justice Department positions. Biden noted that the department would remain independent of the White House, and he accused President Donald Trump of treating Justice like his own law firm.
A group of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, delaying the normally routine certification of Biden’s election, which Trump has repeatedly and without basis, called fraudulent. He encouraged them to go to the Capitol to “cheer on” the members of Congress who planned to object to the certification.
Biden called it “an assault, literally, on the citadel on liberty” as he attacked Trump for creating an atmosphere that would allow it to happen.
“It was an assault on the most sacred of American undertakings,” Biden said.
The president-elect’s comments come amid increasing calls from elected officials in both parties to either invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office or to impeach him with less than two weeks remaining before Biden’s inaugural.
Biden declined to discuss those possible actions at the beginning of his remarks.
But he linked Trump to the mob action on Wednesday, saying “We have a president who has made his contempt for the rule of law clear.”
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”Our president is not above the law. Justice serves the people, it doesn’t protect the powerful,” he said. “That’s why there is no president that’s a king.”
Washington’s police department reported arresting 68 people on Wednesday night, mostly on charges of illegal entry or curfew violations. The U.S. Capitol Police, which has been criticized by lawmakers for a lack of preparedness, reported 14 arrests and said it was reviewing how it handled the incident.
The situation may pose a challenge for Biden, who ran against Trump’s divisive brand of politics but also pledged to bring the country together by uniting Democrats and Republicans. The two Democratic wins in Georgia’s Senate runoffs this week give the incoming president full control of Congress but the 50-50 split between the parties will also limit what he can accomplish without some bipartisan support.
Biden sought to draw a contrast with Trump, who incited his supporters during a Wednesday rally where he repeated his baseless claims that the November election was stolen from him. While Trump issued calls for peace, he never specifically condemned the rioters.
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