President Biden will mark the second anniversary of the Jan. 6 attack on Friday by honoring 12 people who defended democracy against former President Donald Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election.
Two years to the day after a mob of Trump’s extremist supporters stormed the Capitol, Biden was set to present the Presidential Citizens Medal to a diverse group of police and officials who did their jobs in the face of Trump’s scheme to cling to power.
The White House and Democrats want to use the anniversary to remind Americans of the horror of the attack and to spotlight the broad array of people from both parties who refused to bend to Trump’s will.
The ceremony and other events related to the Jan. 6 anniversary ironically comes as the GOP leadership is locked in a humiliating stalemate with far right-wing members who have blocked Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) from becoming speaker of the House.
The solemn ceremony in the East Room of the White House will mostly spotlight Capitol police officers like Officer Eugene Goodman, who stood his ground in the face of attackers spewing racist hate, and Brian Sicknick, who died days after suffering injuries on Jan. 6.
Biden will also give the nation’s second-highest civilian award officials from both parties who pushed back against Trump’s broader plot to stay in power. They include Rusty Bowers, the former Republican speaker of the house who testified before the congressional Jan. 6 committee, and Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson.
Georgia election workers Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss will also get medals for enduring a shameful campaign of derision over phony claims from Trump and his ex-lawyer Rudy Giuliani that they rigged votes in Atlanta.
Along with the ceremony, Attorney General Merrick Garland marked the anniversary by noting that prosecutors have charged nearly 1,000 people with crimes tied to the Jan. 6 attack.
Prosecutors have won scores of convictions including rare convictions of leaders of the white nationalist Oath Keepers for seditious conspiracy.
“Our work is far from over,” Garland said in a statement.
Special counsel Jack Smith is overseeing a broad probe into the attack and has not made any decision about charging Trump.
The Department of Justice also announced a new $500,000 reward for information about the unsolved Jan. 6 attempted pipe bomb attacks on the Democratic and Republican national committees, which authorities believe was carried out to divert law enforcement from defending the Capitol.
The attack came right after a fiery speech by Trump in which he demanded his supporters, some of whom were armed, “fight like hell” to keep him in power.
Shocking and chaotic scenes unfolded for hours as radical right-wing extremists, some carrying Confederate flags, rampaged through the Capitol hunting down real and perceived enemies, including former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and ex-Vice President Mike Pence.
Trump did nothing to stop the attack for hours until authorities eventually regained control over the Capitol and ended the violence.
Protester Ashli Babbitt was shot and killed as she tried to break into the House chamber where lawmakers took refuge. At least four people died shortly afterward and several police officers committed suicide in the following weeks.
Biden marked the first anniversary of the attack by delivering a speech from the Capitol, in which Biden rebuked Trump and his supporters for their inability to accept democratic defeat.
In the year since, the Jan. 6 committee unearthed copious evidence that Trump and his allies spent months planning and executing the attack.
The Jan. 6 panel, which was disbanded after Democrats lost control of the House in the midterm election, ended its work by recommending Trump face criminal charges even as he and his loyal supporters have only deepened their effort to rewrite history and deflect blame for the infamous attack.