BOSTON (CBS) -- On the first anniversary of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey criticized Donald Trump for continuing to "perpetuate the big lie" after the former president falsely asserted again on Thursday that the 2020 election was rigged.
Five people died in last year's riot, during which Trump supporters stormed the building in an effort to overturn the presidential election. At the time, a joint session of Congress was counting electoral votes to finalize Joe Biden's victory.
Trump was impeached on a charge of inciting the violence, but he was later acquitted by the Senate. The House of Representatives has created a Jan. 6th Committee to investigate the attack.
"Why is it that the Unselect Committee of totally partisan political hacks, whose judgment has long ago been made, not discussing the rigged Presidential Election of 2020?" Trump said in his statement on Thursday. "The Democrats want to own this day of January 6th so they can stoke fears and divide America. I say, let them have it because America sees through their lies and polarizations."
Markey, who spoke with WBZ-TV on Thursday, called the statement "a big threat to democracy."
"Donald Trump continues to perpetuate the big lie," Markey said. "Unfortunately, it is now a big threat to democracy because too many Americans believe what he is saying. And they represent, obviously, in one way, a nationalist, a racist segment of our population. But because it is a former President of the United States saying it, it actually spreads over into a larger percentage of the population in our country. So it is very scary."
Markey was among the many elected officials inside the Capitol building when the riot happened.
"It was incomprehensible," he said recounting the events that day. "And it was absolutely something that I had never contemplated. And while I was here on September 11, 2001, that was an assault by foreign forces on the United States. It would never have crossed my mind that Americans, on the day that we would be counting the electoral college votes, would be seeking to penetrate the security of our country and take those ballots impossible for Joe Biden to be certified."
President Biden spoke on Thursday at the Capitol's Statuary Hall, criticizing the riot and Trump's attempts to overthrow the 2020 election.
"We will make sure the will of the people is heard," Biden said in his speech. "That the battle prevails, not violence. That the authority of this nation will always be peacefully transferred. I believe the power of the presidency is to unite this nation, to lift us up, not tear us apart."
Despite being a year removed from the riot, Markey says he is still worried about the future as long as Trump retains control over the Republican party.
"[Trump is] clearly committed to the big lie. He's clearly committed to running for re-election. And he's going to punish any Republican who in any way questions the assertion which Trump is continuing to make, which is that Joe Biden was not legally elected on this day one year ago by the counting of the electoral college ballots. So it's scary what Donald Trump is saying. It's why we all have to stand up as Americans."
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