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President Biden: All Americans must 'defend the truth' and 'defeat the lies'

Biden said tonight he's thinking of those who guarded the Capitol on Jan. 6, those who lost their lives and those 'living with terror they lived through that day.'

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden has released a statement following former president Donald Trump's acquittal in the Senate impeachment trial, stating that all Americans, especially the nation's leaders, have a duty and responsibility “to defend the truth and to defeat the lies.” 

Biden says that in doing so, “that is how we end this uncivil war and heal the very soul of our nation. That is the task ahead. And it’s a task we must undertake together.”

The new president also says "that violence and extremism has no place in America.”

Biden began by paying tribute to U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who died after being injured during the riot while trying to protect the Capitol. 

The president, who is spending the weekend at Camp David, noted that 57 Senators, including a record 7 Republicans, voted to find Trump guilty of inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol. 

Two thirds of the Senate, or 67 votes, was needed for conviction.

"While the final vote did not lead to a conviction, the substance of the charge is not in dispute," Biden said. "Even those opposed to the conviction, like Senate Minority Leader McConnell, believe Donald Trump was guilty of a 'disgraceful dereliction of duty' and 'practically and morally responsible for provoking' the violence unleashed on the Capitol."

The president added that he's "thinking about those who bravely stood guard that January day."

"I’m thinking about all those who lost their lives, all those whose lives were threatened, and all those who are still today living with terror they lived through that day," Biden said. 

In looking back on the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and Trump's role in it, Biden says “this sad chapter” in American history is a reminder that democracy is fragile and must always be defended. He also says that the nation “must be ever vigilant.”

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Biden's full statement after Trump acquittal 

"It was nearly two weeks ago that Jill and I paid our respects to Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, who laid in honor in the Rotunda after losing his life protecting the Capitol from a riotous, violent mob on January 6, 2021.

Today, 57 Senators – including a record 7 Republicans – voted to find former President Trump guilty for inciting that deadly insurrection on our very democracy. The Senate vote followed the bipartisan vote to impeach him by the House of Representatives. While the final vote did not lead to a conviction, the substance of the charge is not in dispute. Even those opposed to the conviction, like Senate Minority Leader McConnell, believe Donald Trump was guilty of a “disgraceful dereliction of duty” and “practically and morally responsible for provoking” the violence unleashed on the Capitol.

Tonight, I am thinking about those who bravely stood guard that January day. I’m thinking about all those who lost their lives, all those whose lives were threatened, and all those who are still today living with terror they lived through that day. And I’m thinking of those who demonstrated the courage to protect the integrity of our democracy – Democrats and Republicans, election officials and judges, elected representatives and poll workers – before and after the election.

This sad chapter in our history has reminded us that democracy is fragile. That it must always be defended. That we must be ever vigilant. That violence and extremism has no place in America. And that each of us has a duty and responsibility as Americans, and especially as leaders, to defend the truth and to defeat the lies.

That is how we end this uncivil war and heal the very soul of our nation. That is the task ahead. And it’s a task we must undertake together. As the United States of America."

Credit: AP
President Joe Biden pauses to speak with reporters as he walks to Marine One for departure from the South Lawn of the White House, Friday, Feb. 12, 2021, in Washington. Biden is en route to Camp David. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

The Associated Press contributed to this report.