As nation marks year since Capitol riot, Biden says lies fueled insurrection

Georgia U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene uses day to highlight conspiracy theories

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden in remarks to the nation Thursday marking one year since the U.S. Capitol riot said the deadly attack was fueled by lies about the 2020 election. He singled out Georgia as a place where the results were confirmed despite statements to the contrary from former President Donald Trump and his allies.

“Recounts were undertaken in state after state,” he said. “Georgia counted its results three times, with one recount by hand. Phony partisan audits were undertaken long after the election in several states. None change the results.”

Those same falsehoods that Biden mentioned were later repeated in a chaotic news conference hosted by U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene.

Biden, delivering remarks from Statuary Hall,where insurrectionists swarmed during the attack, criticized Trump for being the first U.S. president not to facilitate a peaceful transfer of power. He called for passing federal voting legislation in order to protect American democracy from further attempts to undermine it the way rioters had attempted.

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As he and Vice President Kamala Harris exited the Capitol, they walked past a poster honoring the late U.S. Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, which was torn down during the riot and later replaced.

Democratic members of Congress from Georgia did not report attending any of the in-person events, but most released statements expressing their anger and grief about what happened the day of the insurrection. U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, the state’s longest-serving member, praised the work of a House select committee investigating the root causes of Jan. 6.

“As we reflect on the death and destruction at the U.S. Capitol on that infamous day, we must act with resolve to learn what happened, who is responsible, and what must be done to ensure that it never happens again,” the Albany Democrat wrote. “It is our duty to the U.S. Constitution and the American people to gather the facts leading up to, during, and following that event.”

Democrats in Washington and across the nation planned events, vigils and virtual events to mark the day and honor law enforcement officers who defended the building. U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson of Lithonia hosted a virtual roundtable featuring clergy and political science professors discussing the attack and its effects on democracy.

Republicans generally kept their distance from the topic. During a moment of silence on the House floor, the only GOP member present was U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, who was accompanied by her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney.

Georgia House Speaker David Ralston was among the few Republicans willing to weigh in Thursday, warning Democrats not to politicize the breach but also voicing support for ongoing investigations into the riot.

“I’m disappointed by some in my party who can’t accept the fact that that was completely despicable criminal behavior. … What we ought to be doing is letting these investigations run their course,” he said.

Trump canceled plans to hold his own news conference Thursday, but he released a statement after Biden’s speech repeating false information about Georgia’s 2020 election, which he lost.

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Greene and Florida U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz became the most prominent Republicans providing a counternarrative about the riot on the one-year anniversary. Their media event was held at the same time and two floors above the room where Democratic colleagues were sharing personal testimonials about what they experienced during the insurrection.

Greene and Gaetz spent more than 30 minutes spreading conspiracy theories and raising false flags about the riot, painting themselves as the victims and accusing Democrats and the Justice Department of not being serious about getting to the bottom of what happened.

During a joint appearance on former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon’s podcast prior to that event, Gaetz said he and Greene also planned to “walk the grounds that patriotic Americans walked from the White House to the Capitol.”

Staff writer Greg Bluestein contributed to this article.