Supporters of President Donald Trump demonstrated against the results of the 2020 presidential election on Saturday in a series of rallies that underscored the president’s influence on supporters both inside and outside the Republican Party.
At least two of these protests eventually turned violent – four people were stabbed to death in Washington DC and one person was shot dead in the city of Olympia, Washington state. No deaths have been reported, although all four stab victims are said to be in critical condition in hospital as of Sunday. No information is available on the status of the shooting victim in Washington state until early Sunday.
In addition to the four people who were stabbed, at least five more were hospitalized in DC on Saturday and more than 20 people were arrested on various charges, including assault. According to the Olympian, three people were arrested in Olympia, including the alleged shooter.
Members of the Proud Boys – a violent, neo-fascist hate group that often acts on white nationalism and misogyny – were also recorded in DC attacking bystanders and destroying property. Among other things, the group tore down Black Lives Matter signs from several DC churches and burned at least one sign.
The Proud Boys were in Washington, DC, over overlapping protests in support of Trump’s false claim that the election had been stolen from him. Members of the far-right religious and participants in a second “Million MAGA March” – a continuation of an event in November at which tens of thousands of Trump supporters protested in the capital – all came together on DC.
With a few thousand people, the event on Saturday was much smaller than the one in November, but was still celebrated by the President.
“Impressive! Thousands of people are forming in Washington (DC) for Stop the Steal,” he tweeted Saturday morning. “Didn’t know about this, but I’ll see her!”
Trump later shared a video of the rally on Twitter that showed a packed crowd of maskless supporters cheering for Marine One as they fly over it.
It was similar in Olympia, but without the cameos of presidential planes and on a smaller scale. According to the Seattle Times, pro-Trump rallies have become “a regular weekend event on the Washington Capitol campus,” and Trump supporters clashed with counter-protesters all Saturday.
Both events came as Trump neared his sixth week of contesting President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election on November 3, and as the president continued to spread disinformation about the election results. These results will be further consolidated on Monday, when the electoral college votes in favor of Biden’s formal election.
However, the rhetoric of the protesters and their leaders suggests that the fact that the election was stolen from Biden will have little bearing on false claims – and that the President’s supporters will remain loyal to him and his alternate reality claims.
Trump’s rhetoric encourages his followers – and solidifies their support
Not only did proud boys and grassroots activists take part in the events in Washington, DC, but an eclectic parade of well-known Trump allies, conspiracy theorists and Grifter, reflecting all of Trump’s efforts to spread disinformation, encouraged the crowd to continue to oppose the election results and made their loyalty to Trump clear.
Recently pardoned former Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn told the crowd the importance of letting Trump know “we love him”. And Mike Lindell, CEO of MyPillow, joined many of the day’s speakers in putting the president’s struggle to reverse election results into a religious context. He said the world might be in “end times” now.
Lindell also took time during his speech, as the president has repeatedly done in recent days, to shout Republicans who failed to adequately defend Trump’s lies about the election, calling them “cowards” and warning them: ” We’re not going anywhere. “
Other prominent figures went further than Lindell; Nick Fuentes, a white nationalist leader in a far-right movement that views many Trump allies as insufficiently conservative, said in front of a crowd of supporters: “We are going to destroy the GOP.”
The crowd responded by chanting “Destroy the GOP” and boos as Fuentes brought up Georgia Sens, Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue. Both are holding special elections in January, and the GOP’s majority in the Senate is based on both victories.
Nick Fuentes speaks to a bunch of Trump supporters and makes them “Destroy the GOP!” To sing. for not saving Trump from not getting a second term. pic.twitter.com/AUAqU402Dz
– Ford Fischer (@FordFischer) December 12, 2020
Other speakers included Alex Jones – a conspiracy theorist best known for molesting the families of mass shootings and promoting 9/11 Trutherism – and US Representative-elect Bob Good of Virginia, who gave his speech describing the Coronavirus began as a “false pandemic”. despite the fact that nearly 300,000 people have now died from Covid-19 in the United States.
QAnon, the crazy pro-Trump conspiracy theory that assumes the existence of a global cabal of satanic pedophiles, was also represented at the rally.
All along the line, however, the rallyers on Saturday emphasized their commitment to Trump – and his efforts to discard the results of the 2020 presidential election and to prepare for a second term that was not elected.
“If President Trump accepts [his election loss] and Vice President Pence accepts it, then we will accept it, ”one attendee, a pastor from California, told the Washington Post. “But right now this is a divine protest.”
There is no end in sight to Trump’s election fraud lies
Despite a string of legal defeats at every level of the federal judicial system, the energy – and money – generated by the president’s efforts to scrap the election results seems to suggest that an end to Trump’s bogus elections is not in sight of fraud rhetoric .
In addition, Saturday’s rallies’ passionate engagement underscores an unfortunate reality: Republicans have an electoral incentive to continue supporting Trump’s anti-democratic efforts in order to evade a primary challenge to the right.
For his part, Trump has shown himself utterly unwilling to give a reason in his struggle to undermine democracy. On Sunday morning, he tweeted without evidence that the 2020 presidential election, which he lost by more than 7 million votes, was the “MOST CORRUPTIVE ELECTION IN US HISTORY!”.
These tweets were underpinned by actions taken by the Trump campaign and Republican lawmakers, who repeatedly failed to find evidence of election fraud or other irregularities. According to Democratic Voting Attorney Marc Elias, the president and his supporters are now 1-59 in court, with the final loss expected on Sunday in Georgia.
The Georgia Supreme Court on Sunday denied a Trump campaign appeal in a case alleging large-scale election fraud with no evidence.
And separately, a Wisconsin Supreme Court judge told a Trump campaign attorney on Saturday that his election lawsuit challenged the results and “smelled like racism.”
On Friday, the US Supreme Court also dismissed a lawsuit in Texas seeking to overturn election results in four major swing states won by Biden. The lawsuit – dubbed “The Big One” by Trump – was backed by 17 attorneys general and more than half of the House’s Republican conference.
With an upcoming vote at the electoral college on Monday, both Trump and the Republican establishment are quick to run out of venues to question the election results, but as of Sunday they show little evidence of accepting the reality. On Fox News Sunday, Steve Scalise, the Chamber’s second most powerful Republican, again refused to recognize Biden as President-elect when he was pushed by anchor Chris Wallace.
Steve Scalise, who has supported Trump’s efforts to disenfranchise millions of Biden voters for no good reason, will not commit to recognizing Joe Biden as elected president even after the electoral college votes pic.twitter.com/rlrIqw8OcS
– Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) December 13, 2020
Scalise recognition is not required – the transition to president has already begun and Biden will be sworn in as president on January 20th. However, it predicts a likely battle in Congress over the official January 6th electoral college vote – one that Republicans can. Not winning, as Vox’s Andrew Prokop explains – and it is an alarming sign in itself that the leaders of one of the country’s two major political parties are unwilling to accept the results of a free and fair election.
The GOP’s willingness to support Trump in his disinformation campaign could have long-term consequences: In a poll by Fox News on Saturday, for example, 56 percent of registered voters said Trump’s continued refusal to admit “weakens American democracy.”
But Trump doesn’t seem concerned about the damage he’s doing to the country. “We just started fighting !!!” he tweeted on Saturday.
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