President Joe Biden castigated his predecessor Monday for failing to respond to the January 6, 2021, insurrection, contrasting Donald Trump’s lack of action with the heroics of police officers responding to the Capitol riot.
“Every day we rely on law enforcement to save lives. Then, on January 6, we relied on law enforcement to save our democracy,” Biden said in remarks delivered virtually to a conference for Black law enforcement officials being held in Florida.
“We saw what happened: the Capitol Police, the DC Metropolitan Police, other law enforcement agencies were attacked and assaulted before our very eyes. Speared. Sprayed. Stomped on. Brutalized. Lives were lost,” Biden went on.
“And for three hours, the defeated former President of the United States watched it all happen as he sat in the comfort of the private dining room next to the Oval Office. While he was doing that, brave law enforcement officers were subject to the medieval hell for three hours, dripping in blood, surrounded by carnage,” Biden said.
Biden has condemned the January 6 attack but does not regularly make it part of his public comments. Officials have said he’s watched bits and pieces of the hearings put on by the congressional committee investigating the attack, and watched the beginning of last Thursday’s hearing focused on Trump’s actions that day.
Yet as the first stage of the hearings conclude, and as Biden looks to draw a stronger contrast with Republicans, his comments reflect a stronger condemnation of his predecessor for his actions that day.
Testimony heard last week by the committee showed Trump resisted calls from his allies and advisers to respond more forcefully to the Capitol riot. He spent the afternoon watching the riot play out on television.
Later, Trump resisted delivering remarks to call off the rioters before eventually doing so.
In his speech, Biden said those who supported the attempt to block certification of the election could not call themselves pro-police.
“Face to face with a crazed mob that believed the lies of the defeated President, the police were heroes that day. Donald Trump lacked the courage to act,” he said. “The brave women and men in blue all across this nation should never forget that. You can’t be pro-insurrection and pro-cop. You can’t be pro-insurrection and pro-democracy. You can’t be pro-insurrection and pro-America.”
In the speech, which was pre-recorded at the White House, Biden also criticized Florida Republicans for opposing gun control laws that are supported by law enforcement.
“You hear a lot of politicians about how much they love you, how much they care about you, how they’ll do anything for you,” he said. “In the state you’re in today, Gov. (Ron) DeSantis, Sen. Marco Rubio, Sen. Rick Scott, all oppose banning assault weapons.”
“To me, it’s simple. If you can’t support banning weapons of war on America’s streets, you’re not on the side of police,” he said.
He noted he owned two shotguns, but that the Second Amendment is “not a right that’s absolute.”
“When it comes to public safety, the answer isn’t to defund the police. The answer is to fund the police,” he said.