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Jan. 6 shadows the 2024 campaign, but not on the debate stage. That alarms democracy advocates

WASHINGTON (AP) — In the first presidential debate, Republican Donald Trump skimmed over the Jan. 6, 2021, attack at the Capitol, shifted blame for the violent mob siege and declined repeatedly to state unequivocally that he will accept the results of this year’s White House election.

And President Joe Biden, who has said the work of his presidency is to restore the soul of the nation, flubbed and floundered, failing to forcefully confront, contradict and hold Trump, the indicted former president, accountable for the attack on the election — and democracy.

It is an extraordinary moment, or lack of one, that is alarming to democracy advocates, the far-reaching effort to overturn the 2020 election and the subsequent insurrection that defined the Trump presidency fading from view during the opening debate of the general election campaign.

Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson, the Democrat who chaired the House’s Jan. 6 committee investigation in the last Congress, said it is a deeply unfortunate situation.

“We could have a Jan. 6, 2.0,” Thompson said Friday outside the Capitol.

The outcome underscores the choice Americans face this fall as the riot over the 2020 election remains fundamental to the 2024 campaign, but also obscured by it, despite the four-count federal indictment against Trump for working to overturn the results four years ago in the run-up to the violent siege and despite the convictions of more than 1,000 people in the Capitol attack.

It comes as the Supreme Court is weighing cases involving Jan. 6, including a decision Friday that makes it easier for some rioters to contest their charges and convictions, and another expected Monday on whether Trump can claim immunity in the federal election case.

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