President Joe Biden took his oath of office just days after the violent attack on the Capitol on January 6, but he has carefully tried to prevent these unprecedented circumstances – or his predecessor – from dominating his first year at the White House.
However, on the anniversary of the uprising, his spokeswoman said he plans to do something he normally avoids: face the legacy of President Donald Trump directly and personally.
During a speech at the Capitol on Thursday, Biden will set out “President Trump’s unique responsibility for the chaos and carnage we’ve seen,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday.
On January 6th, ABC News Live will feature full-day coverage of events marking a year since the attack on the US Capitol and the ongoing impact on American democracy.
“He will forcibly push back the lie spread by the former president in order to mislead the American people and their own supporters, as well as to divert their attention from their role and what happened,” she told reporters.
Psaki declined to say whether Biden would call Trump by name. “We will see,” she said, adding that “people will know who he is referring to.”
While Biden has fervently criticized the attack, the rioters and Republican politicians who minimized the violence, the president has spent much of his political capital tackling other crises in the country: the coronavirus pandemic, the disabled economy and the nation’s crumbling infrastructure.
Instead, he has made it clear that he believes that results – with elusive support from both parties – are key to resolving domestic disputes for all Americans, Democrats and Republicans.
“To overcome these challenges – to restore the soul and secure the future of America – it takes more than words,” said Biden in his inaugural address on January 20th. “It requires the most elusive of all things in a democracy: unity.”
But the “enlightenment” he once predicted for Republicans after Trump left office has not materialized. In an ABC News / Ipsos poll conducted last week, 71% of Republicans said they rely on Trump’s false claims that he was the rightful winner of the 2020 election.
While state-level Republicans have worked to restrict voting rights over the past year, Congress Democrats and civil rights activists have urged Biden to do more to protect voting rights.
Biden has actually tossed himself behind voting laws in Congress that Republicans have so far prevented, and has even gone so far as to support an exception to the Senate rules to allow voting legislation to continue.
But with not all Senate Democrats on board, legislation remains stalled.
Last month, when his “Build Back Better” draft social law also battled to win support from the same moderate Democrats, Biden signaled his openness to stepping up the demand for voting rights.
“There is nothing more important domestically than the right to vote,” he told reporters. “It’s the single biggest problem.”
Biden has described the GOP’s efforts to restrict voting as the “Jim Crow attack of the 21st century”.
“The denial of full, free and fair elections,” he said during a speech in July, “is the most un-American thing any of us can imagine, the most undemocratic, the most unpatriotic and yet unfortunately not an unprecedented case. “
But when it comes to confronting Trump in a more personal way, Biden generally avoided even pronouncing his predecessor’s name.
The “big lie” – Trump’s refuted claims that the 2020 elections were stolen from him – he only referred to a few times in public.
“‘The Big Lie’ is just that,” Biden said in July. “A big lie.”
But the president has expressed support for the Justice Department’s persecution of those allegedly involved in the January 6 attack, and he has shared Trump-era documents with a Congressional investigative committee against the former president’s objections .
Asked in October whether he thinks the Department of Justice should prosecute those who oppose the House Special Committee that summoned senior Trump administration officials, Biden said, “I do, yes.”
While later describing his comment as inappropriate and saying during a town hall held by CNN that it did not intend to compromise the integrity of the department, he reiterated that he believed that those who did not respond to the committee were “accountable should be drawn “.
“No matter where it goes,” Biden told ABC host David Muir “World News Tonight” last month. “Those responsible should be held accountable.”
ABC News’ Justin Gomez contributed to this report.