Asked by CNN’s Don Lemon how, as ambassador, she would calm allies’ potential concerns over what happened that day, Thomas-Greenfield replied: “What they saw on that day was extraordinarily painful for all of us. But what they also saw on that day that made us extraordinarily proud is that … after the riots ended, the Senate came back to their chambers and completed their business.”
Congress’ counting of the Electoral College votes was halted for more than five hours while lawmakers were forced into lockdown by pro-Trump rioters that overran US Capitol Police. But lawmakers vowed to finish what they had started, and the Senate reconvened just after 8 p.m. ET that day, nearly six hours after it abruptly recessed. Prosecutors have since charged more than 300 people in connection with the attack.
“It shows that our democracy is resilient, it shows that our democracy is strong,” Thomas-Greenfield continued. “It shows that we can have these kinds of events and be transparent about them but also continue to thrive in a democracy that is functioning — not perfect, but functioning, and one that we can be proud of.”
The UN ambassador’s comments, nearly a week after her confirmation to the post, come as US officials continue to grapple with the aftermath of the attack on the nation’s capital and as the new administration works to vault America back onto the global stage.
Thomas-Greenfield also addressed the Biden administration’s decision not to directly sanction Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who the US intelligence community determined is responsible for the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, despite a campaign promise to punish senior Saudi leaders.
“The relationship with Saudi Arabia is not going to be the same, it has changed significantly and President Biden has made clear that we will hold those people accountable,” she said, pushing back that critics’ assertion that the Biden administration was giving a murderer a pass was “not the case.”
She pointed to the administration’s actions on the issue — the release of the US intelligence report on Khashoggi’s murder, visa restrictions “against those who were involved” and sanctions. The report found that bin Salman approved the operation to capture or kill the Saudi journalist, and neither the visa restrictions nor the sanctions list directly impacted the prince.
When pressed on whether Biden was demonstrating sufficient accountability, Thomas-Greenfield noted that the administration had taken such actions after being in power for less than two months.
“Those actions have been taken in public and those actions will continue to be strengthened over the coming months,” she said. “I think that anyone that has any doubt that the president is not serious just needs to look at what he’s done in the short period of time that we’ve been in the administration and there’s more to come.”