President Donald Trump on Wednesday addressed thousands of supporters in Washington who gathered to back his unsubstantiated claims that the presidential election was stolen from him.
Trump spoke at an event at the Ellipse on the National Mall dubbed the “March for Trump/Save America” rally, organized by the group Women for America First.
As he opened his remarks, he slammed the “fake news media” for not showing what called the “hundreds of thousands” of people at the event, saying, “the media is the biggest problem we have, as far as I’m concerned.”
“We beat them four years ago,” he said, “and this year, they rigged an election, they rigged it like they’ve never rigged an election before.”
The U.S. Park police told NPR that permits for the rally had been approved and amended to increase the capacity from 5,000 to 30,000 people.
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Thousands of the president’s supporters already had packed the mall by mid-morning Wednesday, gathering between the Washington Monument and the Ellipse for a second day of protests calling for President-elect Joe Biden’s victory to be nullified.
The protests came hours before Congress was to meet in a joint session to certify Biden’s electoral college victory, where several Republican lawmakers in both chambers planned to object.
Trump’s backers warned each other that anti-fascist militants and Black Lives Matter members were infiltrating their ranks, The Washington Post reported.
D.C. police said they made at least six arrests during the first day of protests on Tuesday, including several that were weapons-related. Charges included illegally carrying firearms and possession of unregistered ammunition.
After Tuesday’s official events ended, protesters stayed on the streets until late into the night. Social media videos showed some clashing with police — authorities said several protesters were charged with assaulting a police officer and simple assault.
Trump on Tuesday praised the protesters in a series of tweets, repeating unfounded claims that the presidential election had been “stolen” from him.
“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!” Trump wrote.
He also falsely claimed on Twitter that Vice President Mike Pence has the power to “reject fraudulently chosen electors.”
The National Guard was mobilized and every police officer in the District of Columbia was put on duty to handle the protests.
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