President Joe Biden said the United States must “defeat political extremism” in his remarks during the National Prayer Breakfast. Although the event has typically served as a time for lawmakers to set aside their political differences, the event comes scarcely a month after a mob of pro-Trump insurrectionists stormed the United States Capitol in a bid to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Tensions in Washington are still high.
“We’ve witnessed images we’ve never imagined,” Biden said. “A violent assault of the U.S. Capitol, democracy, and a violent threat that took lives. We must defeat political extremism, white supremacy and domestic terrorism. For so many in our nation, this is a dark, dark time.”
In times like these, Biden, a devout Catholic, said he turns to his faith, which “provides hope and solace; provides clarity and purpose as well.”
“Faith shows the way forward as one nation in a common purpose. These aren’t Democrats and Republicans going hungry—they’re our fellow Americans, fellow human beings; these aren’t Democrats or Republicans going without healthcare—they are our fellow Americans, fellow human beings; there aren’t Democrats and Republicans being evicted from their homes—they are our fellow Americans, fellow human beings; these aren’t Democrats or Republicans losing their lives to this deadly virus—they are our fellow Americans, fellow human beings,” Biden said. “This is not a nation that can, or will, simply stand by and watch this. It is not who we are.”
Biden’s remarks come just a couple of weeks after his administration requested a “comprehensive threat assessment” on domestic violent extremism (DVE) from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, a joint effort with the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security.
“This is a tasking from President Biden sent to ODNI today requesting a comprehensive threat assessment coordinated with the FBI and DHS on DVE,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said at the time. “This assessment will draw on the analysis from across the government and, as appropriate, non-governmental organizations.”
Five people, including Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, died during the assault on the Capitol, which took place after former President Donald Trump ordered his supporters to march to the building and disrupt the electoral certification of then-President-elect Biden’s win. Trump was impeached for inciting the insurrection; his trial in the Senate will begin next week.