Outgoing US President Donald Trump has addressed thousands of supporters, including members of far-right groups, at a rally in Washington, DC protesting against Wednesday’s meeting of Congress to confirm Joe Biden’s victory in November’s presidential election.
The Republican president, who has spent much of his time since then in a failed effort to reverse his defeat, falsely said he won the election as he spoke on an outdoor stage framing the White House, which Biden is due to take over in two weeks.
Crowds gathered at the so-called “Save America March” wore Trump-approved red baseball caps and cheered as Trump repeated the groundless conspiracy theories that have consumed his final days in office.
“You don’t concede when there’s theft involved,” Trump said after taking the stage following a playlist blasted over loudspeakers of power ballads by Elton John and Phil Collins. “Our country has had enough and we will not take it any more.”
He aired his familiar grievances with the news media and Hillary Clinton, his former Democratic rival from the 2016 election, and delighted the crowd by calling Democratic victories the product of what he called “explosions of bulls***.”
“Bulls***! Bulls***! Bulls***!” the crowd chanted in response.
Weeks have passed since the states completed certifying that Biden, a Democrat, won the election by 306 Electoral College votes to Trump’s 232, and Trump’s extraordinary challenges to Biden’s victory have floundered in courts across the country.
Congress was due to confirm Biden’s victory on Wednesday. Many of Trump’s fellow Republicans have promised a stonewalling effort that could stretch proceedings past midnight but was almost certain to fail.
Members of militia groups and far-right groups, some in body armour, mingled with the crowds.
On Tuesday evening, Trump supporters trying to reach Black Lives Matter Plaza near the White House were stopped by police in riot gear who used pepper spray and batons to drive them back. Police said a handful of their officers were injured in scuffles and 10 people were arrested from Tuesday into Wednesday morning, a police spokeswoman said.