Trump vows ‘we will never concede’ at Washington rally and urges vice president Mike Pence to overturn election result
Donald Trump has told thousands of supporters gathered in Washington DC that “we will never concede” the presidential election.
Mr Trump addressed a “Save America” rally on the Ellipse, just south of the White House, following speeches by his sons Eric and Donald Jr.
He urged Vice President Mike Pence to help overturn Joe Biden’s victory in the November election when Congress sits later to certify the Electoral College votes.
“If Mike Pence does the right thing we win the election,” Mr Trump said.
“All Vice President Pence has to do is send it back to the states to recertify and we become president and you are the happiest people,” Mr Trump said, repeating a falsehood he has been promoting leading up to the congressional session.
Lou Murray, a life insurance salesman from Boston, said he and many others still hoped Congress and Vice President Mike Pence would not certify the vote.
“I hope Vice President Pence has courage today, and I hope any politician who thinks he has a future shows courage to stand up and do what’s right,” Mr Murray said.
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 Mr Trump does not serve another term and said Republicans who do not back him should face primary challenges.
“People are angry. This isn’t going to go away,” Ms 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 any more.”
Like many others, Peterson was not wearing a mask. She said she opposes the shutdowns prompted by the pandemic and does not believe anyone has died from Covid-19. More than 350,000 people have died from the virus in the US
Organisers planned an afternoon march to the Capitol, where Congress will be voting to affirm the Electoral College results, which Mr Trump continues to dispute.
A number of prominent Trump supporters were expected to attend the protest events, which began on Tuesday with a rally at Freedom Plaza near the White House.
As temperatures dropped and a steady rain swept on to the streets, hundreds remained in the plaza into nightfall.
“I’m just here to support the president,” said David Wideman, a 45-year-old firefighter who travelled from Memphis, Tennessee.
Mr Wideman acknowledged he was “confused” by a string of losses from the president’s legal team in their attempt to overturn the results of the election and did not know what options Mr Trump had left.
“I’m not sure what he can do at this point, but I want to hear what he has to say,” Mr Wideman said.
The president 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. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”
The speakers included Mr Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn, whom the president pardoned after he was twice convicted of lying to the FBI in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
“We stand at a crucible moment in United States history,” Mr Flynn told the mostly maskless crowd. “This country is awake now.”
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