President Biden called the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol an “existential crisis,” stressing that while American democracy survived, “the struggle is far from over,” The Hill writes.
“The insurrection was an existential crisis—a test of whether our democracy could survive. It did. But the struggle is far from over. The question of whether our democracy will long endure is both ancient and urgent,” Biden said Wednesday at his first joint address before Congress.
Biden noted that the riot – which left five dead and the Capitol surrounded by new fencing and a National Guard presence – has hurt the U.S.’s image abroad, particularly as rivals like Russia and China seek to dominate the world stage. He noted that adversaries “are betting we can’t” overcome the divisions that lead to the attack.
“They look at the images of the mob that assaulted this Capitol as proof that the sun is setting on American democracy,” he said. “But they’re wrong. You know it; I know it. But we have to prove them wrong.”
Biden’s speech comes after Capitol Police said continued heightened security at the Capitol was necessary due to intelligence that some militia groups that attacked the Capitol threatened to “blow up” the complex during the joint address. The address was given to a sparse audience compared with past years, largely due to the pandemic.
The Justice Department has charged more than 400 people in connection with the riot, with investigators largely zeroing in on extremist groups like the Oath Keepers. Shortly after the Biden administration was sworn in, the Department of Homeland Security issued a bulletin warning extremist groups continued to post an elevated threat.
“DHS is concerned these same drivers to violence will remain through early 2021 and some DVEs may be emboldened by the January 6, 2021 breach of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. to target elected officials and government facilities,” the agency wrote using shorthand for domestic violent extremists.