Joe Biden warns democracy is still under threat and looming Trump shadow proves it
As President Joe Biden used the big Washington stage to lament the insurgency on Capitol Hill as the worst attack on American democracy since the Civil War, a wave of Trump-era flashbacks underscored the depth of the ever-inescapable threat. .
Biden’s address to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday night was a ritual rooted in lore and featured a president trying to bring America back to normalcy. To that end, the new Commander-in-Chief told House of Representatives lawmakers America is “on the move again” – emerging from a deadly pandemic, reviving its economy and ready to resume its leadership role. of nations and to take care of its own citizens better than ever.
He clarified the scale of his ambition – not only to heal the national divisions opened by the tumultuous presidency of Donald Trump – but to launch a new era in which the government is a tool to raise living standards and alleviate the plight of workers and the middle class. .
But the pageantry of political continuity created by Wednesday’s time-honored speech, though cut short by Covid-19, failed to quell the rabid hell that Trump left behind even for a day.
It was striking and a little unsettling to hear a US president warn that the democratic foundation on which the nation rests remains fragile – months after a majority of Republicans who sit in the House chamber in which he spoke refused to vote to confirm his election. to win.
“The insurgency was an existential crisis, a test of whether our democracy could survive. And it did. But the fight is far from over, ”Biden said.
Giuliani in the center of the storm
Rudy Giuliani – once the former president’s lawyer and one of Trump’s henchmen who did so much to tarnish the democracy Biden wants to protect – threatened to steal the president’s headlines earlier today.
In a scene that would once have been considered extravagant had it not been for the head-turning outcry over the past four years, federal agents conducted sunrise searches of Giuliani’s office and apartment. This was again a raid on the lawyer of an incumbent president. Giuliani has not been charged with a felony and has denied any wrongdoing.
The research was linked to an investigation into whether the man once celebrated as US mayor lobbied for Ukraine illegally while caught up in Trump’s plan to force Kiev to damage Biden , then potential enemy of 2020.
Giuliani’s efforts did not secure Trump a second term, but the larger operation to discredit an election Trump lost is dragging on, as a second flashback made clear on Wednesday.
Supporters of the former president have won a court battle that will allow them to push forward a bogus electoral recount in Maricopa County, Arizona. The masquerade is being orchestrated by Trump supporters and one of the conservative television networks that is undermining American democracy by exposing the former president’s electoral fraud lies.
January 6 is big
The court case was far from the only explosion in the recent past that showed how much democracy is in jeopardy. Memories of a day of infamy on January 6 were all over Capitol Hill Wednesday night.
Biden’s speech came hours after CNN broadcast the heart-wrenching account of eyewitness Michael Fanone, a mob-beaten police officer, who refuted Trump’s revisionism and his lie that the police were greeted by ” hugs and kisses ”.
Giuliani’s return to the headlines, Trump’s continued orbit attempts to discredit his fair electoral loss, and haunting reminiscences of the Capitol Riot raise the question of whether the Republican Party is ready – or capable – to walk away from Trump. .
The response, to which the GOP appears to respond in the negative, will have a huge impact on the ambitious plans Biden presented on Wednesday night, including his vow to try to unite the country and even produce bipartisan legislation.
Hosting TV presenters ahead of his speech, the president warned he needed a partner across the aisle.
“I need to know if there’s a party to deal with. We need a Republican party, we need another party, whatever you call it, that is unified – not completely broken up and fearful of each other, ”Biden said.
One of the key points of Biden’s speech was his stark warning that American rivals like Chinese President Xi Jinping were betting that the United States could not compete with its raging autocracies.
But on a day when Trump’s long shadow loomed over American politics again, stressed that the most serious threat to free political traditions and fair and intact elections did not come from abroad but from within the country. .
“ The president is not going to put his thumb on the scale ”
That it is necessary to stipulate which Trump impeachment is linked to the raid on Giuliani’s house is his own commentary on the corruption and scandal that bubbled almost every day of the last presidency.
It is also highly unusual for the Justice Department to execute a search warrant against a lawyer, let alone a former deputy attorney general who was a senior lawyer for a former president.
The White House said it had no information on the search warrants being executed, in line with Biden’s vow to rebuild the wall that most presidents have maintained between the Justice Department and politics.
But the obvious and huge political implications of this decision likely meant that approval to move forward had to come from the highest echelons of the ministry itself. The hypersensitive nature of the case also led to immediate speculation about the seriousness of the evidence investigators were looking for, as a raid on Giuliani would likely require a high bar to get the go-ahead.
Giuliani’s son Andrew, who is also a member of Trump’s circle, claimed the raid was part of a political vendetta led by the Biden administration.
“All I will say is this: To all Americans, our Department of Justice should be independent from politics,” said young Giuliani.
“Enough is enough, ladies and gentlemen,” he said. “We can’t take this anymore.” It probably won’t be long before Trump’s media propagandists begin to concoct conspiracy theories about a “deep state” plot against the former president.
But if political interference was involved, it may have been to Giuliani’s advantage since federal prosecutors in New York City had previously requested a search warrant but encountered resistance from the then-era Justice Department. Trump on the strength of the evidence. Former Attorney General William Barr has been repeatedly accused of acting more like Trump’s personal lawyer than a neutral arbiter of justice.
It might have been more politically advantageous for Biden if officials had changed Giuliani’s research timeline, given that they forced the president to share news coverage on Wednesday.
Biden’s senior adviser Cedric Richmond said the White House would not comment on the ruling against Giuliani since the Justice Department was supposed to be independent. But he also made a clear implicit comparison between the behavior of Biden and the former president who often used to openly call on the department to prey on its political enemies.
“We are very much aware that the people of this country must have complete confidence in the Department of Justice,” Richmond told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on “The Situation Room.”
“The president is not going to put his thumb on the scale or comment on an investigation, and the investigations should just take their course without political interference.”
Amid a current whirlwind of conspiracy theories, blatant lies from the Trump world, and in the bitter overhang of the 2020 election and the last aberrant presidency, perhaps Biden’s most difficult task is convincing the red half. of the country that it is true.