WASHINGTON (Tribune News Service) — President Joe Biden assailed his predecessor, Donald Trump, for promising to pardon rioters who attacked the U.S. Capitol, and warned voters against putting Trump’s followers in charge of the House or Senate in November’s elections.
“To this day, they defend the mob that stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6,” Biden said Thursday night, and referred to recent remarks by Trump that if he became president again, he would issue full pardons and an official apology to people convicted of crimes arising from the riot.
He would “pardon them all. He’ll pay their legal fees. How can you call yourself a democrat with a small d? How can that be?” Biden told a meeting of the Democratic National Committee in a Maryland suburb of Washington.
He spent much of his address at the National Harbor resort assailing the former president and those who continue to back him after the insurrection of Jan. 6, 2021.
“They tried to do it 20 times when the last guy was here, what was his name? I can’t remember,” he quipped. “This guy never stops. We’ll never stop, either, because we can’t let this happen.”
Warning that Social Security and the Affordable Care Act could be imperiled if Republicans win control of Congress this November, Biden implored his listeners to “just get out and vote.”
The political event was the president’s first public remarks since the death of Queen Elizabeth II. He signed a condolence book at the British Embassy on his way to National Harbor.
“I had the opportunity to meet her before she passed and she was an incredibly gracious and decent woman,” he told the crowd before swinging into a denunciation of Republicans and their platform.
He again portrayed GOP candidates running in the November elections as outside the political mainstream and on the wrong side of issues like climate change and abortion rights.
In recent weeks, he has sought to reframe that contest as a referendum on Republican loyalty to Trump, which endures despite the former president’s efforts to overturn his electoral defeat, as well as the Supreme Court’s ruling overturning the Roe v. Wade abortion decision, rather than his own economic performance.
During a prime-time speech last week outside Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, Biden said Trump and his adherents threatened the foundations of the republic.
Republicans have countered Biden’s assertions, with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy saying the president should apologize for his suggestion at a fundraiser last month that the philosophy that underpinned Trump’s politics was “like semi-fascism.”
“President Biden has chosen to divide, demean, and disparage his fellow Americans. Why? Simply because they disagree with his policies,” McCarthy said in a speech last week.
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