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Politics

Trump Keeps Up Pressure on Pence to Subvert Vote (Video)

President Donald Trump is continuing his pressure-campaign against Vice President Mike Pence, telling thousands of supporters falsely that all Pence has to do to stay in office is send Electoral College votes back to the states to be recertified.

Pence has no such unilateral power under the Constitution and congressional rules that govern the count. It is up to the House and Senate to voice objections, and in any case the states’ electors were chosen in accordance with state law, not fraudulently.

The demonstrators on the Ellipse, south of the White House, cheered Trump on and planned to march to Capitol Hill where Congress will vote to affirm or contest the Electoral College results. The president said he’d be walking with the crowd.

“All Mike Pence has to do is send it back to the states,” Trump said, urging his loyal vice president to join lawmakers who are protesting President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.

“Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us,” Trump said, “and if he doesn’t it’s a sad day for our country.” Trump said it would take courage for Pence not to contest the results.

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12:15 p.m.

President Donald Trump is vowing that “we will never concede” as he speaks to supporters shortly before Congress is to convene for a joint session to confirm the Electoral College vote won by President-elect Joe Biden.

Trump took the stage at the Save America rally, which drew thousands of supporters who swamped the nation’s capital as the president’s Republican allies in the House and Senate plan to object to his November election loss to Biden.

Trump urged Vice President Mike Pence, who will play a largely ceremonial role in the process, to block certification of Biden’s win. Pence does not have this power.

“Our country has had enough,” Trump said. “We won’t take it anymore.”

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11 a.m.

Sen. Mitt Romney says President Donald Trump’s election challenge has “disgraced the office of the presidency."

Romney told reporters on Capitol Hill ahead of Wednesday’s joint session to confirm Joe Biden’s Electoral College win that he was certain of the outcome.

“I’m confident that we’ll proceed as the Constitution demands and tell our supporters the truth — whether or not they want to hear it,” Romney said.

Republican lawmakers are picking up Trump’s demands to challenge the results from several states. But they are not expected to have enough votes in Congress to change the results. Biden is set to be inaugurated on Jan. 20.

Romney said, “President Trump has disrespected the American voters, has dishonored the election system and has disgraced the office of the presidency.”

He called the “gambit” of the challenges in Congress “very disappointing.”

About an hour before Trump was set to speak, there were massive, dense lines at security checkpoints near the White House. At the Lincoln Memorial, dozens of Trump supporters stood on the steps with large Trump flags. 

Nirav Peterson, who flew in from Seattle to attend the rally, said there would be a groundswell of anger and activism if Trump doesn't serve another term and said Republicans who don't back him should face primary challenges. 

"People are angry. This isn't going to go away," Peterson said as she took video of the large crowd gathered beyond the steel barriers at the foot of the Washington Monument. "You have a huge, huge portion of the people who aren't going to take it anymore." 

Like many others, Peterson was not wearing a mask. She said she opposes the shutdowns prompted by the pandemic and doesn't believe anyone has died from COVID-19. More than 350,000 people have died from the virus in the U.S. 

Organizers planned an afternoon march to the Capitol, where Congress will be voting to affirm the Electoral College results, which Trump continues to dispute. 

A number of prominent Trump supporters were expected to attend the protest events, which began Tuesday with a rally at Freedom Plaza near the White House. They include Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and longtime Trump ally Roger Stone, the recipient of a pardon by the president.

As temperatures dropped to the low 40s Tuesday night and a steady rain swept onto the streets, hundreds of protesters remained in Freedom Plaza.

"I'm just here to support the president," said David Wideman, a 45-year-old firefighter who traveled from Memphis, Tennessee. Wideman acknowledged he was "confused" by a string of losses from Trump's legal team in their attempt to overturn the results of the election and didn't know what options Trump had left.

"I not sure what he can do at this point, but I want to hear what he has to say," Wideman said.

Trump tweeted his support for the protesters: "Washington is being inundated with people who don't want to see an election victory stolen by emboldened Radical Left Democrats. Our Country has had enough, they won't take it anymore! We hear you (and love you) from the Oval Office."

In a Tuesday evening tweet, Trump called on Democrats and fellow Republicans to look at the "thousands of people pouring into D.C." In another tweet, he warned that antifa, the umbrella term for leftist militant groups that Trump has said he wants to declare a terrorist organization, should stay out of Washington. 

The rallies had local officials and law enforcement bracing for potential violent street clashes. Many businesses in downtown Washington boarded up their windows, fearful that the protest could devolve into the unrest seen in May and June when dozens of businesses were vandalized.

District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser called in National Guard troops to help bolster the city's police force. She urged residents to stay away from downtown Washington and to avoid confrontations with anyone who is "looking for a fight." But, she warned, "we will not allow people to incite violence, intimidate our residents or cause destruction in our city."

Election officials from both political parties, governors in key battleground states and Trump's former attorney general, William Barr, have said there was no widespread fraud in the election. Nearly all the legal challenges from Trump and his allies have been dismissed by judges, including two challenges rejected by the Supreme Court.

A pro-Trump rally Dec. 12 ended in violence as hundreds of Trump supporters, wearing the signature black and yellow of the Proud Boys, a far-right extremist group, sought out confrontations with a collective of local activists attempting to bar them from Black Lives Matter Plaza, an area near the White House. At least two local Black churches had Black Lives Matter banners torn down and set ablaze.

On Monday, police arrested the leader of the Proud Boys, Henry "Enrique" Tarrio, 36, after he arrived in Washington before this week's protests. Tarrio was accused of burning one of the Black Lives Matter banners in December and was found with two high-capacity firearm magazines, police said. A judge signed an order Tuesday banning Tarrio from entering the District of Columbia, with very limited exceptions related to his criminal case.

In addition to the National Guard, federal agents were on standby, in case they were quickly needed in the city this week.

The federal Bureau of Prisons said about 100 "specially trained officers" were sent to the Justice Department headquarters to assist other security personnel but would remain "in a reserve capacity unless needed."

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