President Donald Trump’s supporters have swarmed the streets of Washington DC to support his longshot legal challenges to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.
Pro-Trump groups plan to rally in Freedom Plaza at noon on Saturday, and began filling the streets hours before the official start time. Left-wing activists vowed to counter-protest the event, raising fears of clashes.
At around 10.30am, Trump departed the White House and his motorcade drove past the gathering crowd of cheering supporters. His destination was officially undisclosed but is believed to be his golf club in Sterling, Virginia.
The rally, dubbed the Million MAGA March, is being held in support of Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of widespread election fraud that threw the race for his opponent.
Trump has made little headway in the courts with his lawsuits and for the first time on Friday he began to sound doubtful about his prospects, telling reporters ‘time will tell’ who occupies the White House from January 20.
A motorcade carrying President Donald Trump drives by a group of supporters participating in a rally near the White House
At around 10.30am, Trump departed the White House and his motorcade drove past the gathering crowd of cheering supporters who had arrived for the Million MAGA March
The rally, dubbed the Million MAGA March, is being held in support of Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of widespread election fraud that threw the race for his opponent
President Donald Trump walks out of the White House, Saturday morning before his motorcade passed the crowd
There have been other pro-Trump protests around the country since Biden was projected the winner on November 7, but they have been small and unfolded with few incidents.
In addition to the Washington event, pro-Trump protests and counterprotests are planned in other major cities around the country.
‘Heartwarming to see all of the tremendous support out there, especially the organic Rallies that are springing up all over the Country, including a big one on Saturday in D.C. I may even try to stop by and say hello,’ Trump wrote on Twitter on Friday.
The pro-Trump demonstrations in Washington and other cities on Saturday are scheduled to feature a mix of the president’s backers, far-right personalities and members of the Oath Keepers militia and Proud Boys in a public display of support for his effort to stay in power.
Organizers have given the rallies various names, including the Million MAGA March, the March for Trump and Stop the Steal. MAGA is an acronym for the Trump campaign slogan ‘Make America Great Again.’ Trump has tweeted his support.
Some left-wing groups are planning counter-demonstrations in Washington and other cities.
Law enforcement had warned of potential violence around the election, including from extremist groups, which so far has not come to pass. Experts on extremist groups said that the Washington demonstrations had the potential to become violent if protesters clashed with counterprotesters.
Trump supporters gather at Freedom Plaza in Washington DC in a MAGA Million March to show their support for Trump and protest against the Presidential election result which they claim to be fraudulent
Trump supporters demonstrate as the motorcade carrying U.S. President Donald J. Trump drives by the rally
The pro-Trump demonstrations in Washington and other cities on Saturday are scheduled to feature a mix of the president’s backers, far-right personalities and members of the Oath Keepers militia and Proud Boys
Proud Boys chairman Enrique Tarrio (center) appeared at the rally flanked by members of his right-wing group
Christopher Rodriguez, Washington’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management director, said his agency was tracking about a dozen groups each made up of ‘about a dozen’ people who had indicated they would attend on Saturday.
‘I don’t want anyone to think we are talking about large numbers of folks,’ he said at a news conference on Thursday.
Rodriguez stressed that those attending the rallies would not be allowed to carry weapons. ‘Violence will not be tolerated,’ he said.
Before leaving the White House on Saturday, Trump launched a series of tweets on various topics. He attacked officials in Georgia over voting procedures there, earning a warning label rebuke from Twitter.
The president also called on Congress to agree to a pandemic stimulus bill and wished the country a happy Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights.
As well, he also struck out at New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, saying that any delay in distributing an eventual COVID-19 vaccine there would be the fault of state authorities.
Meanwhile, Biden was spotted spending his Saturday morning on a bike ride at Cape Henlopen State Park in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.
Meanwhile, Biden was spotted spending his Saturday morning on a bike ride at Cape Henlopen State Park in Delaware
U.S. President-elect Joe Biden goes for a bike ride at Cape Henlopen State Park in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware on Saturday
Biden further solidified his victory on Friday as results from Edison Research showed him winning Georgia, giving him a final tally of 306 Electoral College votes, far more than the 270 needed to be elected president and above Trump’s 232.
The 306 votes was equal to what Trump won in his 2016 victory over Hillary Clinton, which he then called a ‘landslide.’
Trump briefly appeared close to acknowledging the likelihood he will be leaving the White House in January during remarks at a White House event.
‘This administration will not be going to a lockdown. Hopefully the, uh, whatever happens in the future – who knows which administration it will be? I guess time will tell,’ Trump said in his first public remarks since Biden was projected as the election’s winner a week ago.
With the election outcome becoming clearer, Trump has discussed with advisers possible media ventures and appearances that would keep him in the spotlight ahead of a possible 2024 White House bid, aides said.
He is considering starting a television channel or social media company to compete with those he felt betrayed him and stifled his ability to communicate directly with Americans, according to several advisers.
In the near term, Trump is expected to campaign for Republican candidates in Georgia ahead of two Jan. 5 runoff elections that will determine which party controls the U.S. Senate.
Trump has refused to concede to Biden and claims without evidence that he was cheated by widespread election fraud. State election officials report no serious irregularities, and several of his legal challenges have failed in court.
Trump cheer alongside the presidential motorcade at Freedom Plaza near the White House in Washington, DC
Supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump cheer alongside the presidential motorcade at Freedom Plaza
In addition to the Washington event, pro-Trump protests and counterprotests are planned in other major cities around the country
A Michigan state court on Friday rejected a request by Trump’s supporters to block the certification of votes in Detroit, which went heavily in favor of Biden. And lawyers for Trump’s campaign dropped a lawsuit in Arizona after the final vote count there rendered it moot.
Federal election security officials have found no evidence that any voting system deleted, lost or changed votes, ‘or was in any way compromised,’ two security groups said in a statement released on Thursday by the lead U.S. cybersecurity agency.
To win a second term, Trump would need to overturn Biden’s lead in at least three states, but he has so far failed to produce evidence that he could do so in any of them.
States face a December 8 deadline to certify their elections and choose electors for the Electoral College, which will officially select the new president on December 14.
Trump’s refusal to accept defeat has stalled the official transition. The federal agency that releases funding to an incoming president-elect, the General Services Administration, has yet to recognize Biden’s victory, denying him access to federal office space and resources.
But Biden, who will meet with advisers about the transition on Saturday in his home state of Delaware, has pressed ahead with the process, identifying legislative priorities, reviewing federal agency policies and preparing to fill thousands of jobs in the new administration.
‘We’re charging ahead with the transition,’ Jen Psaki, a senior adviser to Biden’s transition team, said while stressing Biden still needs ‘real-time information’ from the Trump administration to deal with the resurgent coronavirus pandemic and national security threats.
Although the national popular vote does not determine the election outcome, Biden was ahead by more than 5.3 million votes, or 3.4 percentage points. His share of the popular vote, at 50.8%, was slightly higher than Ronald Reagan’s in 1980 when he defeated incumbent Jimmy Carter.