President Donald Trump excoriated 'weak' Republicans and demanded fealty from Vice President Mike Pence to a rally crowd near the White House Wednesday where he demanded Pence and Congress overturn the election results that lead to his defeat.
In an extraordinary speech, Trump once again called his election 'rigged' just minutes before a joint meeting of Congress was to begin counting the certified electoral votes that have him losing to Democrat Joe Biden.
He referred to votes that came in after 10pm election night – which consisted of in-person and mail-in ballots and denied him the lead he said he and his pollsters anticipated – as 'these explosions of bullsh*t.'
Members of the crowd immediately chanted 'Bullshi*t!' in response.
'Our election was over at 10:00 in the evening,' Trump said.Insurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
Trump mocked his party's 2012 Republican presidential nominee, now-Sen. Mitt Romney, for conceded his own race back then.
'We will never concede. It doesn't happen,' he said – although losing candidates have conceded for generations. 'There's never been anything like this. It's a pure theft.'
President Donald Trump threatened Vice President Mike Pence telling him to overturn the general election results shortly before Congress s was to begin counting the electoral votes that will make Joe Biden the next president
Trump addressed his thousands of his supporters near the White House Wednesday at his 'Save America' rally and declared war on his own party, calling Republicans who opposed him 'weak'
Hours after a humiliating defeat in one Georgia Senate race and the prospect of losing another, Team Trump showed no sign of conceding
A crowd of Trump supporters started gathering outside of the White House for a rally on WednesdayInsurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
Trump's comments amounted to a declaration of war on elements of his party, after his lawyer Rudy Giuliani demanded 'trial by combat' against opponents of his claims of election fraud.
Trump spoke to a crowd of several thousand – but referred to them as consisting of 'hundreds of thousands' of supporters fathered on a lawn south of the White House that doesn't hold that many.
He said his election was 'stolen by the fake news media. That's what they've done and that's what theyr'e doing.'
He urged his supporters to march down to the Congress, which was to commence the count at 1 pm.
'We're going to walk down to the Capitol and we're going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women,' he said, speaking from behind a pane of bullet-proof material.
He turned up the heat on Pence, a potential 2024 contender who will preside over the count. His role is set in the Constitution and the Electoral Count Act, and is largely ceremonial.
'Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us, and if he doesn't that will be a sad day for our country because you're sworn to uphold our Constitution,' he said.
Trump acknowledged that he has tried to pressure Pence into rejecting votes from states he lost, quoting from a conversation he has denied happened.
'All Vice President Pence has to do is send it back to the states to recertify and we become president and you are the happiest people,' he told his fans, who cheered 'Stop the Steal!' at times.
'I said Mike, that doesn't take courage. What takes courage is to do nothing. That takes courage. And then we're stuck with a president who lost the election by a lot and we have to live with that,' he said of Biden.
Trump touted his own vote total, but denied Biden's was real.
His mention of the pandemic came in terms of his own race, where millions voted by mail as thousands battled infections in a year more than 300,000 Americans died of COVID-19.
'They've used the pandemic as a way of defrauding the people in a proper election,' Trump said.
'Eight weeks. I want to go back eight weeks. Let's go back eight weeks,' he mused at one point, as he described a conversation with an unnamed official who told him that he would be lock to win in 2024.
Giulinia said, 'If we're wrong we will be made fools of, but if we're right a lot of them will go to jail. Let's have trial by combat,' he said, without explaining exactly what he meant by combat.
'I'm willing to stake my reputation, the president is willing to stake his reputation on the fact that we're going to find criminality there,' said the former New York mayor. Trump and his allies have suffered dozens of losses in state and federal courts with suits charging election fraud.
He spoke to thousands of cheering supporters on the Ellipse south of the White House. A permit was for 30,000 people.
Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani once again raised allegations of widespread election fraud – which he said also occurred in the Georgia Senate runoff elections
'If we're wrong we will be made fools of, but if we're right a lot of them will go to jail. Let's have trial by combat,' he said, without explaining exactly what he meant by combat
Donald Trump Jr, the president's eldest son, demanded that Republican Party lawmakers in Congress 'be the hero, not the zero' and refuse to certify President-elect Joe Biden's victory
Thousands of supporters of President Trump are seen above near the Washington Monument for the 'Save America' rally on Wednesday
Donald Trump Jr (left), the president's eldest son, kisses his girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle (right), before addressing the rally on Wednesday
Donald Trump Jr., claimed there were 100,000 people there but images showed far fewer and he bashed elected Republicans who have refused to go along with his father's claims of fraud
The president's son, Donald Trump Jr., claimed there were 100,000 people there but images showed far fewer.
He bashed elected Republicans who have refused to go along with his father's claims of fraud.
'The people who did nothing to stop the steal -- this gathering should send a message to them. This isn't their Republican Party anymore. This is Donald Trump's Republican Party. This is the Republican Party that will put America first,' he said.
His girlfriend, former Fox News personality Kimberly Guilfoyle, also spoke.
After claiming fraud in Trump's election, John Eastman claimed fraud in the count Tuesday night, which allowed Rev. Raphael Warnock to be called as the winner in one runoff and has Democrat Jon Ossoff leading in another.
Explaining how the fraud he claims occurred happened, Eastman said: 'You know the old way was to have a bunch of ballots sitting in a box under the floor … They put those ballots in a secret folder in the machines, sitting there waiting until they know how many they need … I can now in that machine match those unvoted ballots with an unvoted voter and put them together in the machine. How do we know that happened last night in real time? You saw when it went to 99 per cent of the vote total, and it stopped.'
He pointed to a point late in the vote count while counties were still tabulating votes – a version of Trump's complaint that he led in early returns on election night in November. Last night, Republicans led until addition in-person votes came in in populous Democratic-leaning counties.
'That means they were unloading the ballots from that secret folder,' he claimed.
Hours after a humiliating defeat in one Georgia Senate race and the prospect of losing another, Team Trump showed no sign of conceding
A militia-like group is seen making their way to Trump's rally on Wednesday morning
A stand was being erected at the base of the US Capitol as a pro-Trump supporter holds a flag, hours before Congress meets to certify the electoral college vote for Biden
Trump supporters gather near the White House and watch the rally on a big screen set up nearby
A woman is seen holding a sign that reads 'Trump is the party' as the president's supporters gather on the Washington Monument grounds
Trump supporters braved cold temperatures in Washington, DC, on Wednesday hours before the start of planned demonstrations
At least 10 people were arrested for gun possession crimes and other violations and others were seen clashing with counter-demonstrators.
One man from North Carolina was detained after he was caught carrying a gun without a license.
The man rode into the capital on a bus which was stopped by police near Ninth Street and Constitution Avenue NW.
Police boarded the bus and confiscated a rifle and a handgun as well as a drum magazine that holds additional ammunition.
Trump was expected to address his supporters later in the morning during a rally on the Ellipse.
Many in the crowd were photographed not wearing masks and gathered in tight quarters, shoulder to shoulder, despite the raging pandemic and the nationwide surge in the number of coronavirus cases.
Trump was expected to address his supporters later in the morning during a rally on the Ellipse, just south of the White House
Donald Trump tweeted furiously at his own vice president Mike Pence Wednesday to demand he refuse to certify Joe Biden's election victory.
Pence has no such power to do so - and told Trump that over lunch on Tuesday, the New York Times reported - but Trump doubled down on his demands as thousands of his supporters, some in camouflage, gathered close to the White House.
'States want to correct their votes, which they now know were based on irregularities and fraud, plus corrupt process never received legislative approval. All Mike Pence has to do is send them back to the States, AND WE WIN. Do it Mike, this is a time for extreme courage!' Trump tweeted.
At the White House there was shock that Trump would turn so publicly on his ultra-loyal VP.
that one aide called attacking the VP 'shameful,' amid fears from Pence's camp that worse was to come.
Yesterday a senior White House official (who is very Trump-y) said what he’s doing to Pence, who has remained loyal to him through Access Hollywood and all, is “shameful.” https://t.co/6QJtYVhoTg— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) January 6, 2021
The tweet was hours before Pence was due to preside over the joint session of Congress which will formally declare Biden the election victor - and as the Republican party adsorbed the shock of being on the brink of losing the Senate.
Trump appeared to concede that the Senate was lost in an all-capitals tweet claiming that Republicans need to keep 'the power of the veto.'
'THE REPUBLICAN PARTY AND, MORE IMPORTANTLY, OUR COUNTRY, NEEDS THE PRESIDENCY MORE THAN EVER BEFORE - THE POWER OF THE VETO. STAY STRONG!THE REPUBLICAN PARTY AND, MORE IMPORTANTLY, OUR COUNTRY, NEEDS THE PRESIDENCY MORE THAN EVER BEFORE - THE POWER OF THE VETO. STAY STRONG!' Trump tweeted.
A move to turn on Pence had been growing in inevitability for days. Axios reported that Trump had no idea that Pence oversaw the certification of the election results - until he learned about it from a television ad by the Lincoln Project, the never-Trump Republican group led by Kellyanne Conway's husband George.
Tweetstorm turning on Pence: Donald Trump went after his own VP in a tweetstorm
On Tuesday night ABC News' White House Correspondent Jon Karl reported that Trump was 'prepared to go after Pence and go after him hard' if he does not get in line and overturn the election at the special session of Congress which begins at 1pm Wednesday.
'Decertifying' the results would plunge the country into a constitutional crisis but Trump claimed that Pence was in 'total agreement' that he 'has the power to act.'
Trump's statement publicly turned the heat up on Pence after a pressure campaign which has been going on in private for weeks and exploded into the public on Monday night at Trump's Georgia rally, then on Twitter Tuesday.
'The New York Times report regarding comments Vice President Pence supposedly made to me today is fake news,' Trump said in a statement issued by the White House. It was dated 2020.
'He never said that. The Vice President and I are in total agreement that the Vice President has the power to act.
'The November 3rd election was corrupt in contested states, and in particular it was not in accordance with the Constitution in that they made large scale changes to election rules and regulations as dictated by local judges and politicians, not by state legislators. This means that it was illegal.
Delivering bad news: Mike Pence was spotted at the White House Tuesday after Trump had tweeted that the vice president could disqualify Electoral College votes. Pence was on his way to tell Trump that he could not
Trying to lighten the blow: Mike Pence told Trump he might attempt to 'acknowledge' his claims of fraud - partly driven by his own fear that confirming Joe Biden's victory will be used against him
Trump's tweet is false and Pence does not have the power to reject slates of electors
'Our Vice President has several options under the U.S. Constitution. He can decertify the results or send them back to the states for change and certification.
'He can also decertify the illegal and corrupt results and send them to the House of Representatives for the one vote for one state tabulation.'
Significantly, however, the statement was not signed by Pence - and the legal claims Trump made appeared to be in line with plans outlined by Rudy Giuliani, not the Senate Parliamentarian who has advised Pence that his powers are limited to confirming the Electoral College votes read out on the floor of Congress.
Trump also tweeted 'big news from Pennsylvania' with a copy of a letter sent by Republican state lawmakers to Mitch McConnell and the Republican minority leader in the House asking for certification to be 'delayed.'
The lawmakers claimed that the election outcome should be put off until after the Supreme Court has considered a Republican challenge to how Pennsylvania's voting was run - which the justices have scheduled no date to hear, and asked for responses on January 22, after Trump leaves office.
The letter repeats claims about the election which have been dismissed by state and federal courts repeatedly.
That Trump tweeted it shows his level of desperate clutching at straws with Congress all but certain to torpedo his bid to overturn the election as early as Wednesday.
Trump had first wanted Republicans to vote to reject electors from swing states, but a majority of GOP senators have made clear they will not go along with that, making it dead on arrival.
His next attempt is to claim Pence has powers to simply reject votes himself, a claim advanced by Rudy Giuliani and other fringe lawyers but dismissed by constitutional experts as absurd.
Pence was himself reported to have told Trump Tuesday that he was wrong.
He delivered the bad news over lunch, the New York Times reported, sugaring the pill by suggesting he could in some way acknowledge Trump's discredited claims when he presides over the Senate.
Ahead of the traditionally ceremonial event, President Donald Trump had escalated his pressure campaign on Pence to help him overturn the election results and spend another four years in the White House.
'The Vice President has the power to reject fraudulently chosen electors,' the president tweeted on Tuesday morning, wrongly stating what Pence can do when he is in the presiding chair.
But shortly after when the two met for their regular lunch, Pence delivered the bad news that he could not.
The New York Times reported that Pence also told Trump to lighten the blow that he would keep 'studying the issue' until the joint session begins at 1pm Wednesday.
In fact Pence spent hours this week with the Senate Parliamentarian, who advises senators and the vice president on the rules when they are on the floor of the Senate - or in Pence's unique case, presiding over the joint session certifying the election.
Truth to power: Donald Trump demanded publicly Monday night at his rally in Georgia and then on Twitter that the vice president aid his campaign to overturn the election. Pence told him Tuesday he could not
Desperation move: Trump's extraordinary plan to overturn the election through Mike Pence is a final attempt to stop Joe Biden's victory being confirmed
If a member of the House and Senate both object to one of the state's slates of electors, the two chambers split to debate the objection for two hours - with Pence presiding over the Senate.
That is when he could offer some 'acknowledgment' of Trump's claims about fraud to ameliorate both the blow to his boss, and the potential for the president to turn on his ultra-loyal deputy in the dying days of the administration, and beyond.
Pence is said to be particularly concerned that his certification of Biden's victory could be weaponized against him on social media.
His delivery of bad news to Trump came after a lawsuit brought by Louis Gohmert, an ultra-loyalist congressman, which demanded that federal courts say Pence could disqualify electoral college votes was dismissed rapidly by a judge and an appeals court.
That legal move would have offered Pence some cover that he could point to judges as having ruled out the possibility that he could disqualify voters - which no vice president had ever