Trump loyalists march to contest vote result as president makes motorcade drive-past
- Marchers near the White House greeted Donald Trump’s appearance with cheers and flags reading ‘Best prez ever’
- Right-wing militia group the Proud Boys were among those rallying
Thousands of diehard Donald Trump supporters rallied for a last stand in Washington, chanting “four more years” and blaming fraud for an election defeat that will force the president to vacate the White House after just one term.
Trump himself made a drive-past in his armoured motorcade, on his way to play golf, smiling through his limousine window to wild cheers and signs saying “Best prez ever” and “Trump 2020: Keep America Great”.
“We wanted to show our support, we’re feeling they are trying to steal the election,” said Pam Ross, who drove eight hours from Ohio to join the rally on Saturday, referring to the president’s political opponents.
Later on Saturday, he took to Twitter with a series of tweets and retweets that included claims of voting machines potentially being hacked and complaints about news networks’ coverage of the rally.
Twitter slapped labels on at least eight of the posts as containing “disputed” information.
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At least 10,000 people – few wearing masks – massed on the city’s Freedom Plaza before marching to the Supreme Court in a raucous atmosphere reminiscent of a Trump campaign rally.
“President Trump deserves to see who’s behind him, he deserves to feel the love,” said Kris Napolitana from Baltimore. “I believe that he’s going to win when all the fraud and cheating is found out.”
With right-wing militia group the Proud Boys among those attending, a large security presence was deployed to prevent clashes with anti-Trump events outside the Supreme Court.
Groups of counterprotesters stood nearby, some yelling about social justice and Trump supporters not wearing masks.
There were a number of scuffles, but no major violence had been reported.
As night fell, police formed lines on either side of a street leading to the White House, separating hundreds of rival protesters.
“We’re just holding back people who want to fight,” said one officer.
Authorities reported at least 10 arrests during the day, including four for firearm violations and one for assault on a police officer.
The latest vote tallies gave the Democrat Biden a clear win in the state-by-state Electoral College that decides the presidency, with 306 votes against Trump’s 232. A total of 270 votes are required for election.
But Margarita Urtubey, 49, a horse breeder from Miami, said the election was “so corrupt”, adding: “Trump won by a landslide. We are here to march for the ‘stop the steal’ of this election, to make our voice heard.”
Trump tweeted that “hundreds of thousands” had turned out – while his spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany made the greatly exaggerated claim that more than a million people were present.
But the turnout was undoubtedly high for a strongly Democratic city, boosted by protesters from around the country, from Florida to Pennsylvania to Colorado.
Darion Schaublin, who drove from Columbus, Ohio, said “the whole system’s rigged … in the way that the information is getting to the people”.
“The truth never actually gets out,” said the 26-year-old, who says he lost his job in a restaurant after refusing to wear a mask to help stop the spread of the Covid-19 disease.
Kathlin Erickson, who said she flew from Colorado on a plane “filled with Trump supporters”, kept alive hopes of a second Trump administration.
“A Trump victory? That’s a long shot, but anything is possible with God,” she said.
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Trump is impeding Biden’s transition ahead of inauguration on January 20 and has filed numerous lawsuits – unsuccessfully – to challenge vote counts around the country.
He said Friday “time will tell” if he remains president, in a momentary slip of his refusal to concede defeat.
Despite his own intelligence officials’ declaration this week that the election was “the most secure in American history”, Trump and his right-wing media allies show no sign of giving up their quest to get the results overturned.
After driving past the marchers in Washington, Trump headed to his golf club outside the capital as he kept to his regular weekend routine.
Half a dozen supporters stood at one side of the entrance with Trump flags, and about the same number stood on the opposite side with a big “Biden Harris” sign and one that said: “We voted. You’re fired.”
Biden on Saturday went biking in a Delaware state park with his wife Jill and a security detail. When asked if he was closer to choosing his cabinet, he replied, “yes”.