Biden wastes no time laying into Trump as he comes out swinging in fiery State of the Union address

President Joe Biden had barely started speaking from the House of Representatives rostrum when he laid into his predecessor and likely 2024 election opponent, former president Donald Trump, for threatening to allow Russia to run roughshod over the democracies of the West while simultaneously castigating the Republican-led Congress for failing to authorise more defence aid to Ukraine.

Invoking Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s speech in 1941 warning of Hitler’s armies being “on the march” in Europe, Mr Biden said he’d come to the same chamber to tell the nation that it is facing an “unprecedented moment in the history of the Union” and to “wake up the Congress and alert the American people that this is no ordinary moment“.

“What makes our moment rare is that freedom and democracy are under attack, both at home and overseas, at the very same time overseas, Putin of Russia is on the march, invading Ukraine and sowing chaos throughout Europe and beyond,” he said.

“If anybody in this room thinks Putin will stop at Ukraine, I assure you, he will not. But Ukraine can stop Putin if we stand with Ukraine and provide the weapons it needs to defend itself”.

The president stressed that Ukraine isn’t asking for Americans to give their lives overseas, and said he is working to keep American soldiers from having to fight there. But he warned that funding for Ukraine is being blocked by “those who want us to walk away from our leadership in the world,” referring to Republicans who oppose aid to Kyiv because it would be a political win for the president.

Recalling how the late Republican president Ronald Reagan had told then-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down” the Berlin Wall in a moment of global leadership, Mr Biden called out Mr Trump without saying his name, referring to the disgraced ex-president’s recent promise to allow Russia to attack any Nato member that doesn’t, in his view, spend enough on defence.

“Now, my predecessor, a former Republican President, tells Putin, ‘Do whatever the hell you want’ — a former American President actually said that, bowing down to a Russian leader,” he said,

“It’s outrageous. It’s dangerous. It’s unacceptable,” he added.

The president’s condemnation of Mr Trump came on the same day that Sweden ended centuries of neutrality by joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation alliance.

With Sweden’s Prime Minister looking on, Mr Biden recalled how America was one of the alliance’s founding members when it was formed after the Second World War to “prevent war and keep the peace”.

“Mr Prime Minister, welcome to Nato, the strongest military alliance the world has ever known,” he said.

Turning back to the House and Senate members looking on, he called on them to pass the bipartisan national security supplemental funding bill that would provide defence aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan and needed humanitarian assistance to the Gaza Strip.

“History is watching — if the United States walks away now, it will put Ukraine at risk, Europe at risk, the free world at risk, emboldening others who wish to do us harm,” he said.

He added that he had a “simple” message to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“We will not walk away. We will not bow down. I will not bow down,” he said.

Mr Biden’s denunciation of Mr Trump and the GOP for refusing to support Ukraine’s fight against Russia was just an opening salvo in what became a full-throated defence of his administration’s policies and repeated exhortations to the assembled legislators to take up bipartisan legislation that has been blocked at Mr Trump’s behest.

Over and over again, the president called out Mr Trump — calling him “my predecessor” — and laid out the stark contrasts between his own policies and those favoured by the Republicans.

After calling them out over Mr Trump’s coziness with Mr Putin and calling the Russian leader a threat to the US from abroad, he immediately pivoted to describing threats to American democracy from within.

He said “history is watching” what Congress does on the foreign aid supplemental, and noted that the eyes of history were similarly watching during the January 6 attack on the Capitol, describing the attack as one committed by “insurrectionists” who’d “stormed this very Capitol and placed a dagger at the throat of American democracy”.

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