Thousands of U.S. President Donald Trump’s supporters marched in Washington on Saturday to back his unsubstantiated claims of election fraud as he pushes ahead with a flurry of long-shot legal challenges to overturn president-elect Joe Biden’s victory.
Trump has made little headway in the courts with his lawsuits. He began to sound doubtful about his prospects for the first time on Friday, telling reporters “time will tell” who occupies the White House from Jan. 20.
Flag-carrying Trump supporters, some chanting “Stop the steal!” and “We are the champions!,” streamed into a rallying point at Freedom Plaza near the White House in downtown Washington before heading the U.S. Supreme Court building.
The demonstrations in Washington and other cities featured a mix of the president’s backers, including conservative personalities as well as members of the far-right Proud Boys group and Oath Keepers militia in a public display of support for his effort to stay in power.
Trump’s motorcade drove by some of the protesters in downtown Washington on Saturday morning on his way to his golf course in nearby Sterling, Va. Flag-waving supporters chanted “USA!” and “Four more years!” as the cars rolled by. Outside the course, anti-Trump demonstrators waved signs including, “We voted — You’re Fired.”
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As the marches kicked off, Biden told reporters in Delaware that he was getting closer to forming his cabinet.
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.
Protesting against the marches, opponents on social media sought to create confusion by flooding the hashtags #MillionMAGAMarch and #MarchforTrump with photographs of pancakes. Some left-wing groups planned counter-demonstrations in Washington and other cities.
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.
Tens of thousands Trump supporters from across US converge in DC one week after the election call for Joe Biden. Say they will never accept result election. Trump took a ride around supporters earlier today then went golfing <a href=”https://twitter.com/CBCNews?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@CBCNews</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/CBCTheNational?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@CBCTheNational</a> <a href=”https://t.co/4txHefjkaL”>pic.twitter.com/4txHefjkaL</a>
The 306 votes was equal to Trump’s tally in his 2016 victory over Hillary Clinton, which at the time he called a “landslide.”
Trump briefly appeared close to acknowledging the likelihood he will be leaving the White House in January during remarks about the coronavirus response at a White House event on Friday.
“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.
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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.
His supporters were fired up on Saturday.
Mike Seneca stood near Freedom Plaza with his dog Zena, which was clad in a red T-shirt emblazoned with “All American Dog,” said he was backing the president.
“It’s hard to believe he wouldn’t have won,” Seneca said and he echoed the president’s unfounded allegations that mail-in ballots that favoured Biden were fraudulent.
“There should be some type of way to verify that these votes came from the people who mailed them,” he said.
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.
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 favour 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. cyber-security 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 Dec. 8 deadline to certify their elections and choose electors for the electoral college, which will officially select the new president on Dec. 14.
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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.
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.
The Democrat took a bike ride on Saturday morning with his wife Jill and some secret service agents at Delaware’s Cape Henlopen State Park. A reporter called out, “Are you any closer to making a cabinet decision?”
Biden replied, “Yes” as he rode by.