WASHINGTON — As Congress began the process of formally confirming Joe Biden’s presidency on Wednesday, President Donald Trump falsely claimed victory at a rambling, delusional last-ditch rally in front of thousands of protesters gathered in front of the White House.
The unprecedented split screen was the culmination of Trump’s futile monthslong campaign to overturn the results of the November election. Trump attacked his own “weak” Republican Party, ran through a long litany of false allegations of election fraud, and urged his vice president, Mike Pence, to illegally reject states’ Electoral College votes.
“We will never give up, we will never concede,” Trump told the crowd. “They say we lost — we didn’t lose.”
But even as Trump spoke, Pence publicly rejected him, announcing that he would not be able to stop the process that would play out in Congress.
"It is my considered judgment that my oath to support and defend the Constitution constrains me from claiming unilateral authority to determine which electoral votes should be counted and which should not," the vice president wrote in a public letter to members of Congress.
That later prompted backlash from the president via Twitter.
At his rally, Trump repeatedly said he would “not let” Joe Biden become president, urging his supporters to march “peacefully” to the Capitol building. But there was no chance that Biden’s victory would not be confirmed within hours.
Congress is meeting Wednesday to approve of the Electoral College votes, which Biden won by a substantial margin of 306–232. Congress can reject states’ Electoral College votes only with a majority vote in both chambers, and Democrats control the House. Dozens of Senate Republicans have also said they will vote to confirm Biden’s victory.
Trump has nonetheless stood stubbornly at the helm of an unprecedented attempt to overturn the results of the election, bolstered by advisers like Rudy Giuliani despite a string of losses in virtually every court case.
Trump has endorsed the protests in DC, which are expected to run throughout the day, with thousands of loyal supporters pleading with Congress to overturn Biden’s victory. He had previously summoned supporters to come to Washington on Jan. 6 with a promise that the day's events “will be wild.”
At least 10 Republican senators, including Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, and dozens of House Republicans, have stood at the president’s side, saying they would object to certifying at least some states’ results and calling for an “audit” of votes.
“I hope Mike is going to do the right thing,” Trump said at the rally of his vice president, who is due to preside over the Electoral College process in Congress. Trump told Pence to “stand up,” saying, “If you’re not, I’m going to be very disappointed in you.”
Trump spoke Wednesday as the leader of a party in even greater turmoil, taking the stage just hours after Democrats swept the Georgia runoff elections and won a slim majority in the Senate. After Republican Party leaders spent months bolstering Trump’s false accusations of election fraud in hopes of motivating Republican voters to turn out, Democrats appear on track to win Georgia by a wider margin than Biden’s victory in the state in November.
Trump did little to position his party for success after he leaves office on Jan. 20.
“I’ll be watching,” Trump said of Congress. “If they do the wrong thing, we should never, ever forget.”
The president was still speaking as members filed into Congress.