President Biden suggested Wednesday that last year’s Capitol riot inspired Russian President Vladimir Putin to invade Ukraine – making the head-turning claim after Republicans said Putin sensed weakness from Biden’s chaotic August withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Biden abruptly invoked the storming of the U.S. Capitol and claimed rioters killed five cops – only true if counting four subsequent suicides and one cop who died of a stroke – as he concluded his remarks on infrastructure at the University of Wisconsin-Superior.
“Vladimir Putin was counting on being able to split up the United States. Look, how would you feel if you saw crowds storm and break down the doors of the British Parliament and kill five cops, injure 145 – or the German Bundestag or the Italian Parliament? ” Biden said.
“I think you’d wonder. That’s what the rest of the world saw. It’s not who we are. And now we’re proving under pressure that we are not that country. We’re united. ”
Biden said broad bipartisan blowback proved Putin wrong. Biden announced limited sanctions last week against state-owned Russian banks and certain businessmen. After receiving criticism, Biden applied sanctions to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s vast personal wealth and reached an agreement with US allies to disconnect Russia from the SWIFT international banking system.
“He did what he did because he thought he could split NATO, split Europe and split the United States. We’re going to demonstrate to the whole world that no one can split this country, ”Biden said in Wisconsin.
Biden blamed the week-old war on Republican rioters after conservative leaders pointed out that Putin didn’t invade any of his neighbors during President Donald Trump’s four years in office and said Biden’s Afghanistan pullout sent a message of US weakness to the Russian strongman.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) Said Wednesday in a Fox News interview that Putin “was brave enough to finally try it” because of Biden.
“Look, I think the precipitous withdrawal from Afghanistan was a message to people like Putin that America was rethinking our forward-leaning position in the world, and I don’t think if we’d [not] cut and run in Afghanistan, Putin would have tried this at all, ”McConnell said.
Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted last week, “Vladimir Putin is the same person he was during our administration. The only thing that has changed is American leadership. ”
Trump, like Biden, planned to end the US presence in Afghanistan in 2021 after 20 years of war, vetoing a McConnell-backed measure that would have prevented him from doing so, but Trump was harshly critical of how Biden went about it and said he should resign for humiliating the country.
Biden did not directly mention the US departure from Afghanistan during his State of the Union address Tuesday, though he was heckled by Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) Over the death of 13 US troops in an Islamic State bombing at the gates of Kabul’s airport.
Meanwhile, Biden’s claim that Capitol rioters killed five police officers is not accurate as four of those deaths were due to subsequent suicides.
The other officer who died, Brian Sicknick, succumbed shortly after the riot to a stroke after fighting off the mob of Trump supporters who disrupted certification of Biden’s victory in the Electoral College. DC medical examiner Francisco Diaz attributed his death to “natural causes.”
Trump supporter Ashli Babbitt was fatally shot by a police officer while attempting to climb through a busted-out window into the House Speaker’s Lobby and three other Trump supporters died of medical emergencies. At least two accused rioters later died by suicide.
The Democrat-led House of Representatives impeached Trump, who is teasing a possible 2024 rematch against Biden, for allegedly inciting the riot. He was acquitted by the Senate, where a two-thirds vote was required for conviction, in a 57-43 verdict, with seven Republicans voting to find Trump guilty.