Speaking to very large crowds of supporters just outside the White House, President Donald Trump again pressured Vice President Mike Pence to overturn the results of the presidential election during a joint session of Congress on Wednesday.
But Pence has no authority to do so, as his role presiding over Congress’ counting of the electoral votes, which will certify Joe Biden’s win, is largely ceremonial.
“Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us, because if he doesn’t, that will be a sad day for our country, because you have sworn to uphold the Constitution,” he said.
Among the cable news networks, CNN and MSNBC did not carry the speech; Fox News did.
Appearing before the huge crowds that stretched from the Ellipse to the Washington Monument, Trump seemed to relish his close up moment, a last stand before Biden’s victory becomes final once and for all.
He also used the rally-like event to air a list of grievances, grousing about evening from Hunter Biden to Georgia’s Governor Brian Kemp to Oprah Winfrey. He again attacked the media as the “enemy of the people,” and also urged the press gathered to turn their cameras on the crowd size, an obsession of his from the start.
“We do not have a fair media anymore; it’s suppression,” he said.
Trump wants Pence to reject the results from some of the states, like Arizona, Georgia and Pennsylvania, and send the results back to the states.
“I hope Mike Pence does the right thing, because if Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election,” Trump told the crowd, reasserting that Democrats used “theft” to win the election.
The president’s heated rhetoric was in line with other speakers, including his son, Donald Trump Jr., who told the crowd,”Thank you for standing up the the bulls—.” Trump himself used the term “bullshit” during his speech, reflecting his level of anger and that stirred up by his supporters. Trump’s campaign and his supporters have lost in the courts more than 60 times, while states have all certified their results showing a 306-232 victory.
CNN referred to the effort by Trump and his supporters to overturn the results as a “desperate coup attempt.” But even some of Trump’s top supporters say that Pence’s role is largely ceremonial and he has no power to do so. And as Republicans grasp the likely possibility that they have lost control of the Senate with Tuesday’s two Georgia Senate runoffs going to the Democrats, some are grumbling to reporters that Trump’s unfounded claims of electoral fraud was responsible for depressing turnout in the state. Gabriel Sterling, a top election official in Georgia and a Republican, faulted Trump for not encouraging voters to use mail-in and early voting options.
“The biggest thing we’ve seen is from the president’s fertile mind of finding fraud where none exists,” Sterling said.
The crowds gathered for what is called a “Save America March,” plan to trek to the Capitol on Wednesday afternoon, when the joint session of Congress will tabulate the votes. Dozens of Republican lawmakers plan to challenge the results, something that will likely extend the proceedings, usually a formality, into the evening.
Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser urged residents to try to steer clear of the downtown area on Tuesday and Wednesday because of the possibility of unrest. On Tuesday night, demonstrators clashed with police, and authorities made 10 arrests, according to The Washington Post.
Earlier, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), a member of Republican leadership in the House, described the effort to overturn the results as futile.
“We have sworn an oath under God to defend the Constitution,” she wrote on Twitter. “We uphold that oath at all times, not only when it is politically convenient. Congress has no authority to overturn elections by objecting to electors. Doing so steals power from the states & violates the Constitution.”