Donald Trump abruptly gave up on his plans to steal the show on the anniversary of the Jan.6 assault on Congress on Tuesday, leaving President Joe Biden to address a divided nation.
Trump’s decision to drop his controversial Florida press conference means Americans will be spared a bitter split-screen moment on Thursday.
If that had been the case, Biden would have marked what he calls “one of the darkest days” in US history, while Trump, hours later, was expected to promote his lie in the act of being cheated about winning the 2020 presidential election.
There is no doubt, however, that Trump will weigh on Biden.
In a statement announcing the end of his press conference, Trump once again pushed his conspiracy theory that “fraud” was at the root of his defeat to Biden, calling him “the crime of the century.”
The statement pointed out that a year after a crowd of Trump supporters marched through Congress in an attempt to prevent lawmakers from certifying Biden’s victory, the political wounds remain far from healed.
On Thursday, Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will speak from inside the Capitol Statues Hall, part of the hustle and bustle of almost unbelievable scenes as Trump supporters battle police to invade the heart of American democracy.
As a seasoned politician who came out of retirement to assume what he saw as Trump’s authoritarian presidency, Biden often warned during his freshman year in the White House of an “existential” threat to them. political freedoms that until now most Americans have taken for granted.
His speech should take this warning to a new level.
“He will talk about the historical significance of January 6, what it means for the country a year later,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Tuesday.
Congress will organize a prayer vigil later.
As Trump steps down on the same day, he said he would brag about some “important topics” at a rally scheduled in Arizona on January 15.
These “subjects” are now familiar to all Americans.
Despite losing more than seven million votes to Biden and despite losing several legal challenges across the country, Trump continues to say he was the real winner in 2020.
And the accusations are just the most inflammatory part of a larger attack on Biden on everything from immigration to Covid-19, all adding to what looks a lot like an as yet undeclared attempt to resume power in 2024.
It is a campaign that Carl Tobias, professor at the law school of the University of Richmond, calls “unprecedented in the history of the United States”.
“No former president has tried to do so much to discredit his successor and the democratic process,” said Tobias.
What can Biden do?
As ludicrous as the electoral conspiracy theory may be – a Pennsylvania federal judge ruled the Trump case “tense” and “speculative” – it is considered the truth by millions of Americans.
Polls consistently show that around 70% of Republicans believe Biden was illegally elected.
And tackling what the brand-master Trump popularizes as “theft,” has become a political ideology in its own right, with nearly every Republican lawmaker squirming to avoid criticizing what happened on January 6. – or actively defending the attack.
Lara Brown, director of the Graduate School of Political Management at George Washington University, said the combination of political crooks looking to get into Trump’s good books and masses of voters tricked into believing what they are being told said was a tremendous force.
“What is so scary about our current situation is not only that these are elite attacks, but that they are fueled by a grassroots movement,” she said.
“It wasn’t just right-wing winning groups that organized themselves” on January 6, she said. “It was ordinary, ordinary Americans who had bought into this whole notion.”
It’s unclear what, if anything, Biden can do to change this dynamic.
Democratic political scientist and pollster Rachel Bitecofer urged Biden to take on Trump more aggressively, rather than just pretending the man Psaki called “the old guy” no longer matters.
Biden “is not commemorating an event that has ended. He is commemorating the event that is ongoing and is threatening to worsen,” she said.
“There is a real reluctance to accept the virulence of the right to attack democracy here.”
Brown said, however, that Biden had little leeway, as a direct attack on Trump risked sounding like a “political witch hunt” – exactly what the former president claims in his conspiracy theories.
(This story was not edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)