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Biden Marks Second Anniversary of Jan. 6 Capitol Attack -- Update

The Wall Street Journal · 01/06/2023 16:14

By Annie Linskey and Scott Patterson

WASHINGTON -- President Biden commemorated the second anniversary of the Jan. 6 riot by giving medals to law-enforcement officers who protected lawmakers that day and election officials who resisted efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential contest.

"What you did was truly consequential," Mr. Biden said during an afternoon ceremony in the White House's East Room.

Recipients included former Arizona House Speaker Russell "Rusty" Bowers, a Republican who lost his seat in an August primary after resisting pressure from President Donald Trump to hold a hearing in the state that could have led to changing election results. Mr. Biden also posthumously recognized Brian Sicknick, a Capitol Police officer who died the day after the attack.

"On this day, two years ago, our democracy held," the president said. "We the people did not flinch. We the people endured. We the people prevailed."

Mr. Biden recognized 14 people. Nine awards went to law-enforcement officials, including two whose inclusion in the ceremony was announced about an hour before it began. Three of the awards to officers were posthumous.

The commemoration comes after Mr. Biden delivered multiple speeches over the past two years warning about threats to the country's democracy. Voters cited that as a top issue in the midterm elections, and it led some to reject Republican candidates who echoed Mr. Trump's false claims that he won the 2020 presidential election. That helped Democrats buck historic trends by gaining a seat in the Senate while narrowly losing their House majority.

House Republicans have signaled intentions to launch their own investigation into the Jan. 6, 2021, attack, with a focus on failures of security that allowed the mob to storm the Capitol. The House's Democratic-led Jan. 6 select committee issued its report last month.

The attack happened when members of Congress gathered in a joint session to certify Mr. Biden's 2020 presidential victory. The riot was connected to seven deaths, including one woman who was shot and killed by police and two suicides days afterward, investigators have found. Hundreds have been charged with -- and found guilty of -- crimes including assault, obstruction and sedition.

The anniversary of the attacks comes as House Republicans this week struggle to elect a speaker, with their leaders unable to quell a rebellion from a small group that includes some of the conference's far-right lawmakers.

Republicans this year plan to examine security failures that preceded the breach of the Capitol. Five House Republicans, including Reps. Jim Banks of Indiana and Jim Jordan of Ohio, released a report in December focused on why U.S. Capitol Police were unprepared for the assault despite ample warnings of potential violence that day.

The GOP report sidesteps the focus of the Democratic-led committee: Mr. Trump's central role in summoning the mob to Washington amid unfounded claims of election fraud and then telling them to march on the Capitol, despite allegations that he knew many in the crowd were armed in an effort to disrupt the transfer of power.

More than 100 Capitol Police officers were injured in the attack and several lost their lives in the following days, including Mr. Sicknick, who suffered a stroke on Jan. 7.

The committee's 845-page report focused largely on Mr. Trump's multipart plan to overturn the results of the 2020 election, including his pressure campaigns on state and federal officials and his refusal to take action to stop the assault during a three-hour period following his speech at the Ellipse outside the White House. Mr. Trump has described the investigation of his actions as an effort by political opponents to undermine him, and he has suggested that if he wins the White House again in 2024, he might pardon some of the rioters charged.

California Rep. Kevin McCarthy, while serving as the GOP's minority leader, originally put forward Messrs. Banks and Jordan for the bipartisan select committee, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejected them, citing concerns about the integrity of the investigation. The move prompted Mr. McCarthy to remove the rest of his selections for the committee. "This panel has lost all legitimacy and credibility," he said at the time.

Mrs. Pelosi later named Republican Reps. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois and Liz Cheney of Wyoming to the committee. Mr. Kinzinger chose not to run for reelection last year and Ms. Cheney lost a GOP primary to a Trump-backed challenger.

Mr. McCarthy in November sent a letter to Rep. Bennie Thompson (D., Miss.), former chairman of the Jan. 6 committee, asking the panel to preserve records and transcripts from its investigation. Mr. McCarthy told Mr. Thompson in his letter that while the Democratic-led committee didn't focus on security failures on Jan. 6, "the Republican majority...will hold hearings that do so."

Write to Scott Patterson at scott.patterson@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 06, 2023 16:14 ET (21:14 GMT)

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