Following the chaos that descended upon the U.S. Capitol Wednesday, President-elect Joe Biden issued a strong rebuke of the far-right Trump supporters' breach of the building as Congress attempted to count the Electoral College votes.
Below is a transcript of his remarks:
We've delayed, we've delayed coming out to speak to you. Initially I was going to talk about the economy, but all of you, all of you been watching what I've been watching. At this hour, our democracy is under unprecedented assault — unlike anything we've seen in modern times.
An assault on the citadel of liberty. The Capitol itself.
An assault on the people's representatives and the Capitol Hill police sworn to protect them.
And the public servants who work at the heart of our republic. An assault on the rule of law like few times we've ever seen it. An assault on most sacred of American undertakings, the doing of the people's business.
Let me be very clear: The scenes of chaos at the Capitol do not reflect a true America. Do not represent who we are. What we're seeing are a small number of extremists dedicated to lawlessness.
This is not dissent. It's disorder, it's chaos, it borders on sedition. And it must end now.
I call on this mob to pull back and allow the work of democracy to go forward.
You've heard me say before in different context, the words of a president matter. No matter how good or bad that president is.
At their best, the words of a president can inspire. At their worst, they can incite.
Therefore, I call on President Trump to go on national television now, to fulfill his oath and defend the Constitution and demand an end to this siege.
To storm the Capitol, to smash windows, to occupy offices, the floor of the United States Senate, rummaging through desks ... On the Capitol, on the House of Representatives, threatening the safety of duly elected officials ...
It's not protest, it's insurrection.
The world's watching. Like so many other Americans, I am genuinely shocked and saddened that our nation — so long the beacon of light and hope for democracy — has come to such a dark moment.
Through war and strife, America has endured much.
And we will endure here, and we will prevail again and will prevail now.
The work of the moment and the work of the next four years must be the restoration of democracy — of decency, honor, respect, the rule of law, just plain, simple decency. The renewal of the politics that's about solving problems, looking out for one another, not stoking the flames of hate and chaos.
As I said, America is about honor. Decency, respect, tolerance — that's who we are, that's who we've always been.
The certification of the Electoral College vote is supposed to be a sacred ritual. We affirm — the purpose is to affirm the majesty of American democracy. But today's reminder, a painful one, is democracy is fragile.
And to preserve it requires people of goodwill, leaders who have the courage to stand up, who are devoted not to the pursuit of power or the personal interest pursuits of their own selfish interests at any cost — but of the common good. Think what our children watching television are thinking. Think what the rest of the world is looking at.
For nearly two and a half centuries, we the people, in search of a more perfect union, have kept our eyes on that common good. America is so much better than what we've seen today.
Watching the scenes in the Capitol, I was reminded as I prepared other speeches in the past, I was reminded of the words of Abraham Lincoln in his annual message to Congress, whose work has today been interrupted by chaos.
Here's what Lincoln said. He said, 'We shall nobly save or merely lose the last, best hope on Earth.'
He went on to say: 'The way is plain, peaceful, generous, just. A way which, if followed, the world will forever applaud and God must forever bless.'
The way is plain here, too. That's who we are. It's the way of democracy, of respect, of decency, of honor. And commitment as patriots to this nation.
Notwithstanding what I saw today, we're seeing today, I remain optimistic about the incredible opportunities. There's never been anything we can't do, when we do it together.
And this godawful display today, let's bring it home to every Republican and Democrat and Independent in the nation, that we must step up. This is the United States of America. There's never, ever, ever, ever, ever been a thing we've tried to do that when we've done it together, we've not been able to do it.
So President Trump, step up.
God bless America. God protect our troops and all those folks at the Capitol. We're trying to preserve order. Thank you, and I'm sorry to have kept you waiting.