President-elect Joe Biden declared Monday, hours after the Electoral College made his victory over President Donald Trump official, that “the rule of law, our Constitution and the will of the people prevailed” over Trump’s efforts to undo the results of the election.
“The flame of democracy was lit in this nation a long time ago. And we now know nothing, not even a pandemic or an abuse of power, can extinguish that flame,” Biden said.
In a speech Monday night in Delaware, Biden launched the most direct and detailed defense of his victory yet – and the harshest condemnation of Trump’s flailing efforts to change reality.
He catalogued the failures of Trump’s campaign and his allies in state and federal courts and state legislatures, and recounts that have not substantially changed vote tallies. He called efforts by Trump and his supporters to use the courts to overturn the election result “so extreme we’ve never seen it before.”
“Thankfully, a unanimous Supreme Court immediately and completely rejected this effort,” Biden said.
Biden’s speech came after the Electoral College had cast 306 votes for Biden and 232 for Trump, cementing Biden’s win. The Electoral College votes will now be sent to Congress to be counted formally next month. Though some House Republicans have indicated they will object to the results in key states, they can do little more than delay the process during a joint session of Congress on January 6. Then, Biden will be inaugurated at noon on January 20.
Biden declared it time to “turn the page, to unite, to heal.”
“In this battle for the soul of America, democracy prevailed,” Biden said. “We the people voted. Faith in our institutions held. The integrity of our elections remains intact. And so, now it is time to turn the page. To unite. To heal.”
But he also unleashed on Trump and Republicans who have attempted to thwart the democratic process in a way he had not before.
Lawsuits from Trump and his allies were rejected resoundingly in state and federal courts. “And yet, none of this could stop baseless claims about the legitimacy of the results,” Biden said.
His harshest words were directed at Trump and his Republican allies – including 17 state attorneys general and 126 members of Congress who backed a baseless Texas lawsuit seeking to undo other states’ election results.
“This legal maneuver was an effort by elected officials and one group of states to try to get the Supreme Court to wipe out the votes of more than 20 million Americans in other states and to hand the presidency to a candidate who lost the Electoral College, lost the popular vote and lost each and every one of the states whose votes they were trying to reverse. It’s a position so extreme, we’ve never seen it before,” he said.
The President-elect, who paused throughout his remarks several times to either cough or clear his throat, called it “a position that refused to respect the will of the people, refused respect the rule of law and refused to honor our Constitution.”
He also condemned attacks by Trump and his supporters, who have sought to throw out legitimately cast ballots, on state and local elections officials.
“It is my sincere hope we never again see anyone subjected to the kinds of threats and abuse we saw in this election. It’s simply unconscionable,” Biden said.
He sought to move past Trump’s denials of reality, pointing to record-breaking voter turnout that he said “should be celebrated, not attacked.”
The President-elect noted more than 81 million votes being cast in favor of himself and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, the most in history and 7 million more than Trump and Vice President Mike Pence received.
Biden also noted that he won by the same electoral vote count that Trump received in 2016, saying that it was a “clear victory” then and now.
The President-elect also laid out the work that will dominate the early days of his administration: the battle against the coronavirus pandemic, including distributing vaccines and slowing its spread as those vaccines become available, and rebuilding an economy battered by the pandemic.
“There is urgent work in front of all of us,” he said. “Getting the pandemic under control to getting the nation vaccinated against this virus. Delivering immediate economic help so badly needed by so many Americans who are hurting today – and then building our economy back better than it ever was.”
CNN’s Sarah Mucha and Jeremy Herb contributed to this report.