White House press secretary Jen Psaki compared supporters of former President Donald Trump to "silent lemmings" after a reporter asked if President Joe Biden has unified the nation.
"You do have this pushback from the former president and from some of his supporters, and polls show that there are still a number of Republicans who believe that the election was stolen from the former president," NBC News' Kristen Welker said at a Thursday press briefing. "Does President Biden feel as though he’s done enough to unify the country? And what more does he need to do, given the sharp divides that we still see on display today?"
Psaki did not directly answer the question.
"I don’t think calling this, the events of today, a partisan issue or suggesting that we have reached a partisan point is doing justice to the tens of millions of Republicans, independents, and others out there who don’t feel that way," she said.
Psaki said that "Some Republicans in Congress, not all — many, far too many — who, in our view, in the President’s view, need to take a look at themselves and think about what role they want to play in the history books.
"When their children and grandchildren look at the history books, do they want to be perpetuating the Big Lie? Do they want to be walking like silent lemmings behind the former president, who fomented an insurrection? Or do they want to be part of saving our democracy?" Psaki responded.
Lemmings are small rodents that migrate in herds. A common myth is that lemmings will commit mass suicide by jumping off of a cliff. This misconception has created a common metaphor for human behavior.
Representative Liz Cheney (Wyo.) and her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, were the only two Republicans on the House floor during a Jan. 6 remembrance ceremony.
Many Republican politicians initially stood against Trump immediately following the riot, but have since accused Democrats of using the attack for political gain.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) called Jan. 6 a "dark day" but said "it has been stunning to see some Washington Democrats try to exploit this anniversary to advance partisan policy goals that long predated this event."
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said those in the Capitol on Jan. 6 who attacked police officers should go to jail, but he said "insurrection" is "a political term used by Democrats & the corporate media to try to falsely slander every Trump voter across America."
House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) also called the Democrats' actions political. "The people who broke into the Capitol on Jan 6 all got arrested. Why not the people who burned down cities and police stations last summer? Dems have no real agenda. They have no plan to solve the devastating issues affecting families. All they want to do is politicize Jan 6," he said.
Psaki's press conference Thursday focused heavily on the one-year anniversary of the Jan. 6 attack of the U.S. Capitol.