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Joe Biden Calls Violent Pro-Trump Mob An “Insurrection” That “Borders On Sedition”

The president-elect called on President Trump to “step up” and call off the armed mob swarming the Capitol Wednesday afternoon.

President-elect Joe Biden delivers remarks about the storming of the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob on January 6, 2021 in Wilmington, Delaware. | Getty Images
President-elect Joe Biden delivers remarks about the storming of the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob on January 6, 2021 in Wilmington, Delaware. | Getty Images

In a stern but measured speech, President-elect Joe Biden addressed the nation from Wilmington, Delaware Wednesday afternoon as shocking scenes of violence and chaos unfolded from Trump supporters who stormed the U.S. Capitol. Biden’s address came after Congress was forced to halt its meeting certifying his victory.

“This is not dissent, it’s disorder. It’s chaos. It borders on sedition. And it must end now,” Biden said emphatically. “I call on this mob to pull back and allow the work of democracy to go forward.”

He continued, “Like so many other Americans, I am genuinely shocked and saddened that our nation, so long the beacon of light and hope and democracy, has come to such a dark moment. Through war and strife, America has endured much. And we will endure here and prevail now.”

Directly addressing the president, who earlier encouraged his supporters to march on the Capitol when he spoke at a rally Wednesday morning, Biden said, “I call on President Trump to go on national television now to fulfill his oath and defend the Constitution and demand an end to this siege.”

Biden said, “The certification of the Electoral College vote is supposed to be a sacred ritual to reaffirm — its purpose is to affirm the majesty of American democracy.” But instead he had to describe chaotic scenes that were unfolding Wednesday afternoon as armed and violent Trump supporters broke into the U.S. Capitol, forced Vice President Mike Pence to flee and disrupted the official count: “To storm the Capitol, to smash windows, to occupy offices, the floor of the United States Senate, rummaging through desks, on the House of Representatives, threatening the safety of duly elected officials—it’s not protest. It’s insurrection,” Biden said. “The world is watching.”

Shortly after the president-elect finished his remarks, Trump posted a 1-minute video to his Twitter account in which he once again baselessly claimed that the election was stolen. Hours after the mob turned violent, the president told his supporters to go home.

“It was a landslide election, and everyone knows it, especially the other side, but you have to go home now,” Trump said, continuing to add conspiracy fuel to the fire: “There’s never been a time like this, where such a thing happened, where they could take it away from all of us. From me, from you, from our country. This was a fraudulent election, but we can’t play into the hands of these people. We have to have peace. So go home, we love you, you’re very special…I know how you feel, but go home, and go home in peace.”

Twitter immediately put a warning label on his tweet and limited engagement with it. The label read, “This claim of election fraud is disputed, and this Tweet can’t be replied to, Retweeted, or liked due to a risk of violence.”

In his speech, Biden said the mob consisted of “a small number of extremists dedicated to lawlessness.” 

“I call on this mob to pull back and allow the work of democracy to go forward. You’ve heard me say before in different contexts, the words of a president matter, no matter how good or bad that president is. At their best, the words of a president can inspire; at their worst, they can incite.” 

Congressional representatives from both parties who were hiding in their offices out of fear for their safety said Trump had “incited domestic terrorism” and that “we are witnessing absolutely banana republic crap in the United States Capitol right now.” Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) tweeted that she was drafting articles of impeachment, which her fellow Squad members Reps. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) swiftly supported.

As Biden walked away from the podium, a reporter called out and asked if he is concerned about his January 20 inauguration. (The event, already significantly downsized due to the pandemic, will include a “virtual parade” instead of the usual in-person celebrations.) He turned around and gave an impassioned response: “I am not concerned about my safety, security, or the inauguration. I am not concerned. The American people are going to stand up and stand up now. Enough is enough is enough.”

Biden’s speech was originally planned to be remarks about the economy, but as Capitol Hill descended into mayhem and disorder, he spoke instead about the “unprecedented assault” on democracy—”unlike anything we’ve seen in modern times.”

Watch the full speech and read the full transcript below:

Full transcript:

At this hour, our democracy is under an unprecedented assault. 

An assault on the Capitol itself.

An assault on the people’s representatives, on the police officers sworn to protect them, and the public servants who work at the heart of our Republic.

An assault on the rule of law.

An assault on the most sacred of American undertakings: The doing of the people’s business.

Let me be very clear: The scenes of chaos at the Capitol do not reflect the true America. 

This is not who we are. 

What we are seeing is a small number of extremists dedicated to lawlessness. 

This is not dissent. It is disorder. It is chaos. It borders on sedition.

And it must end. Now.

I call on this mob to pull back and allow the work of democracy to go forward.

You’ve heard me say this in different contexts: the words of a President matter, no matter how good or bad that president is.

At their best, the words of a president can inspire.

At their worst, they can incite.

Therefore, I call on President Trump to go on national television, now, to fulfill his oath and defend the Constitution and demand an end to this siege. 

To storm the Capitol, to smash windows, to occupy offices, and to threaten the safety of duly elected officials is not protest. 

It is insurrection. 

The world is watching — and like so many other Americans, I am shocked and saddened that our nation, so long a beacon of light, hope, and democracy has come to such a dark moment.

Through war and strife, America has endured much. And we will endure here and prevail now. 

The work of the moment and the work of the next four years must be the restoration of democracy and the recovery of respect for the rule of law, and the renewal of a politics that’s about solving problems — not stoking the flames of hate and chaos. 

America is about honor, decency, respect, and tolerance.

That’s who we are. That’s who we’ve always been.

The certification of the Electoral College votes is supposed to be a sacred ritual in which we affirm the majesty of American democracy. 

Today is a reminder, a painful one, that democracy is fragile. 

To preserve it requires people of good will, leaders with the courage to stand up, who are devoted not to pursuit of power and personal interest at any cost, but to the common good.

Think of what our children who are watching are thinking. Think of what the rest of the world is looking at.

For nearly two and a half centuries, we the people, in search of a more perfect union, have kept our eyes on that common good. 

America is so much better than what we’re seeing today. 

Watching the scenes from the Capitol, I was reminded of Abraham Lincoln’s words in an annual message to the Congress whose work has today been interrupted by chaos. 

President Lincoln said: “We shall nobly save or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth….The way is plain, peaceful, generous, just — a way which, if followed, the world will forever applaud, and God must forever bless.”

Our way is plain here, too. It is the way of democracy, of lawfulness, and of honor — respect for each other, and for our nation.

Notwithstanding what we’ve seen today, I remain optimistic about the incredible opportunities. 

There has never been anything we can’t do when we do it together. And this God-awful display today is bringing home to every Republican, Democrat, and Independent in the nation that we must step up.

This is the United States of America. 

President Trump, step up.

May God Bless America.

May God protect our troops and everyone at the Capitol who is trying to protect the order.