Biden unites with all past presidents - apart from Trump - to call for end to ‘political extremism’

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<p>President Joe Biden speaking during the National Prayer Breakfast on 4 February 2021</p> ((C-Span))

President Joe Biden speaking during the National Prayer Breakfast on 4 February 2021

((C-Span))

Donald Trump was absent as former presidents asked for unity and Joe Biden called for an end to “political extremism” during this year's National Prayer Breakfast.

Speaking to the virtual breakfast on Thursday morning for the first time as US president, Mr Biden spoke about various topics including the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and last month’s Capitol riots.

Five people died and several more were injured, as a pro-Trump mob breached the US Capitol on 6 January during the certification of Mr Biden’s presidential election victory.

House members barricaded themselves inside offices to hide from the rioters, while a week later, and a week before leaving office, President Donald Trump was impeached by the House for the second time for inciting the riots at a rally close to the Capitol.

Addressing those in attendance on Thursday about the events of that day, Mr Biden said: “We’ve witnessed images we’ve never imagined. A violent assault of the US Capitol, democracy, and a violent threat that took lives.”

He continued: “We must defeat political extremism, white supremacy and domestic terrorism,” and added: “For so many in our nation, this is a dark, dark time.”

Mr Biden then asked: “So where do we turn? Faith,” and explained that in his “darkest moments, faith provides hope and solace; provides clarity and purpose as well.”

President Biden’s remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast echoed comments he has made since being inaugurated as president on 20 January.

His administration has said it will tackle domestic violent extremism as a priority while in office, and White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced last week that “all violence” will be reviewed as part of the plans.

Mr Biden went on to speak about the scale of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic during his address, and warned that “many difficult nights” are still to come for the nation.

However, he added: “This is not a nation that can or will simply stand by and watch this. That’s not who we are. It’s not who faith calls us to be.

“In this moment, we cannot be timid or tired. We have too much work to do. It’s by our work, not just our words, that we’re going to be judged.”

Mr Trump was the only president from the last 28 years absent at the event on Thursday, as Bill Clinton, George W Bush and Barack Obama, also addressed those in attendance and called for unity.

During his address at the annual event in 2020, Mr Trump took a different tone to those former presidents, by criticising his political opponents and bragging about his first impeachment acquittal.

The former president is currently residing in his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, preparing for his second Senate impeachment trial on 9 February.

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