UPDATED: President Donald Trump slammed the news media once again as he rallied supporters at a demonstration outside the White House today, speaking just an hour before Congress is scheduled to begin a showdown over the certification of the 2020 presidential election.
“The media is the biggest problem we have,” Trump said in the opening moments of his address to a crowd of tens of thousands in the National Mall at the “Save America” rally. He once again falsely accused “the media” of helping to “rig” the election results in favor of his Democratic challenger, President-elect Joe Biden.
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“We will never give up. We will never concede,” Trump said. The rally crowd at times chanted “USA! USA! USA!” After Trump used the vulgarity, the chant shifted to “Bullshit! Bullshit! Bullshit!”
Trump’s defiant comments reinforcing his refusal to accept the outcome of the election set the stage for more brawling in the public square before Biden is inaugurated as the nation’s 46th president on Jan. 20. Trump also threw out unfounded allegations of voter fraud in Tuesday’s runoff elections for Georgia’s two open Senate seats. Democrat Rev. Raphael Warnock has been declared the winner over Republican incumbent Kelly Loeffler. The contest between GOP incumbent David Perdue and his Democratic challenger, filmmaker Jon Ossoff, is too close to call.
“This year they rigged an election like they’ve never rigged it before. Last night they did a (good) job too,” he said. He asserted to cheers that the media is conspiring to suppress evidence of voter fraud, despite the fact that the Trump campaign’s legal challenges have been dismissed by judges in multiple states.
“Our media is not free. It’s not fair. It suppresses thought. It suppresses speech. It’s become the enemy of the people,” Trump said. “It’s the biggest problem we have in this country.”
Over and over he spun a tale of a grand conspiracy among election officials in battleground states and the mainstream news media. “They used the pandemic as a way of defrauding the people of a proper election,” he said to the large crowd where many attendees did not appear to be wearing face coverings — an issue that has become a lightning rod for the MAGA faithful.
Trump heaped pressure on Vice President Mike Pence to impede the certification process in his capacity as president of the Senate, where he will preside over today’s joint session. “If Mike Pence does the right thing then we win the election,” he said. (Seemingly unbeknownst to Trump, Pence issued a letter to Congress while the President was speaking that explains that he does not have the constitutional authority to do what Trump has asked. “No Vice President in American history has ever asserted such authority,” Pence wrote.)
Trump hit on many of his familiar refrains, from bashing some establishment Republicans as “weak” to needling his 2016 opponent, Hillary Clinton, to ruminating on how entertainment industry figures like Oprah Winfrey have shunned him. He took aim at Georgia’s Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, castigating him for not acceding to his demands regarding election procedures in the state. In a level of pettiness that is shocking for a national leader, he also belittled Kemp for weighing what Trump said was “130 pounds” and questioning how he could have once played football.
Trump’s speech is on pace to run more than an hour and overlap with the 1 p.m. ET start of the joint session of Congress. Trump vowed to march with demonstrators to the Capitol building. Repeatedly, he salted his comments with ominous suggestions of more conflict to come.
“We’re going to cheer on our brave Senators and Congressmen and women,” Trump said. “You’ll never take back our country with weakness.”
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