Updated Nov 2, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Biden unloads on "defeated" Trump: "He has abused his power"

Photo of Joe Biden speaking from a podium in the White House

Photo: Oliver Contreras via Getty Images

President Biden hammered home the threat to democracy posed by Donald Trump and "extreme MAGA" election deniers in a speech Wednesday evening that implored voters to recognize what's at stake next Tuesday.

Why it matters: The results of this year's midterm elections will determine who controls the House and Senate. It's also the first national election since the Jan. 6 insurrection, which continues to cast a long shadow over the country.

  • "This intimidation, this violence against Democrats, Republicans, and nonpartisan officials just doing their job are the consequences of lies, told for power and profit," Biden said, turning the focus to his predecessor.
  • "You know, American democracy is under attack because the defeated former president of the United States refused to accept the results of the 2020 election," he said. "If he refuses to accept the will of the people. He refuses to accept the fact that he lost. He has abused his power and put loyalty to himself before law under the Constitution."

Details: The speech also comes less than a week after a home invasion and assault on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's husband.

  • “The assailant ended up using a hammer to smash Paul’s skull. Thankfully, by the grace of God, Paul survived,” the president said in Wednesday's speech. But Biden underscored the connection between the attack and Jan. 6 insurrection.
  • The suspect, who broke into the speaker's San Francisco home and asked “where’s Nancy?” used "the very same words" as members of the "the mob when they stormed the United States Capitol," the president said during remarks at Union Station in the Capitol Hill neighborhood.

What he's saying: "This is no ordinary year," the president warned. "In a typical year, we are not often faced with the question of whether the vote we cast will preserve democracy or put it at risk," he added. "But we are this year."

  • "I wish I could say the assault on our democracy ended that day," he said, referring to the Capitol riots. "But I cannot."

"As I stand here today, there are candidates running for every level of office in America: for Governor, for Congress, for Attorney General, for Secretary of State who won’t commit to accepting the results of the elections they’re in."

  • "That is the path to chaos in America. It’s unprecedented. It’s unlawful. And, It is un-American," he noted. "As I’ve said before, you can’t love your country only when you win."

The other side: GOP lawmakers reacted by accusing Biden of "trying to distract from the countless crises under his watch," per the House Republicans' Twitter account.

  • "President Biden is trying to divide and deflect at a time when America needs to unite—because he can’t talk about his policies that have driven up the cost of living," House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) tweeted. "The American people aren’t buying it."

The big picture: U.S. election officials have said they anticipate unprecedented efforts to disrupt the 2022 election, especially in battleground states.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional details throughout.

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