Jan 6, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Obama: Capitol violence was "incited by a sitting president"

Former President Barack Obama speaks in support of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden during a drive-in rally at the Florida International University on November 02, 2020 in Miami, Florida

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Former President Barack Obama said Wednesday the violence at the U.S. Capitol was a "moment of great dishonor and shame for our nation," but he added: "we'd be kidding ourselves if we treated it as a total surprise."

Details: Obama didn't hold back in who was to blame in his statement on the insurrection, noting history would "rightly remember" that it was "incited by a sitting president who has continued to baselessly lie about the outcome of a lawful election."

  • He also didn't hold back in pointing the finger at Republicans and their "accompanying ecosystem" who had "too often been unwilling to tell their followers the truth," that the presidential election was "not a particularly close" one and that President-elect Biden will be inaugurated on January 20.
  • "Republican leaders have a choice made clear in the desecrated chambers of democracy," he said. "They can continue down this road and keep stoking the raging fires. Or they can choose reality and take the first steps toward extinguishing the flames. They can choose America."

Of note: Obama said he had been "heartened to see many members of the President’s party speak up forcefully" against Wednesday's violence.

  • "Their voices add to the examples of Republican state and local election officials in states like Georgia who've refused to be intimidated and have discharged their duties honorably," he said, in a nod to the intimidation officials like Georgia's Republican Secretary of State had received from Trump supporters and the president himself.

The bottom line: "We need more leaders like these — right now and in the days, weeks, and months ahead as President-Elect Biden works to restore a common purpose to our politics. It’s up to all of us as Americans, regardless of party, to support him in that goal."

Go deeper: Former presidents denounce "insurrection" at U.S. Capitol

Editor's note: This article has been updated with more details on Obama's comments and further context.

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