The “Save America” pro-Trump rally just outside the White House on Wednesday amounted to a declaration of war on the Republican Party by the president’s most fervent followers.
President Donald Trump attacked a long list of Republicans during his speech, including Mitch McConnell, Mitt Romney, Liz Cheney, and Bill Barr, in addition to the Supreme Court. Their offenses? Being unwilling to help him try to overturn his election loss to Joe Biden.
“They’re weak Republicans, they’re pathetic Republicans,” Trump said, adding later: “If they don’t fight, we have to primary the hell out of the ones that don’t fight. ... We’re gonna let you know who they are.”
Trump teased in Georgia on Monday that he’d present new smoking gun evidence of election fraud during Wednesday’s rally, but he ended up repeating the same old lies. He referred to the counting of votes as “explosions of bullshit” and compared the US unfavorably with “third-world countries.”
The president also put enormous pressure on Vice President Mike Pence to refuse to recognize Biden’s victory in the Electoral College during Wednesday’s joint session of Congress.
“Mike Pence, I hope you’re gonna stand up for the good of our Constitution and for the good of our country,” said Trump. “And if you’re not, I’m going to be very disappointed in you, I will tell you right now. I’m not hearing good stories.”
"Mike Pence, I hope you're gonna stand up for the good of our Constitution and for the good of our country. And if you're not, I'm going to be very disappointed in you, I will tell you right now. I'm not hearing good stories." -- Trump pic.twitter.com/RyZZpxGrqZ— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) January 6, 2021
Trump’s speech started so late and went on for so long, however, that Pence couldn’t have heard most of Trump’s pressure campaign if he wanted to. The joint session of Congress to make Biden’s victory official started well before Trump finished speaking, giving Fox News viewers the surreal visual of Trump pressuring Pence to reject electoral votes even as Pence oversaw the hearing.
Quite the split screen -- Trump putting massive pressure on Pence to try to overthrow the election while Pence gets ready for the joint session pic.twitter.com/8oFG5IgwGw— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) January 6, 2021
Alas, while Trump was speaking, Pence released a statement indicating he would not reject the Electoral College results after all.
Trump’s speech capped off a morning in which Trumpworld figures such as Rudy Giuliani, Kimberly Guilfoyle, Eric Trump, and Donald Trump Jr. spoke. The attempted hostile takeover of the Republican Party was also a major theme during Don Jr.’s speech.
“These guys better fight for Trump,” he said. “Because if they’re not — guess what? I’m gonna be in your backyard in a couple of months.”
"These guys better fight for Trump. Because if they're not --Guess what? I'm gonna be in your backyard in a couple of months" -- Donald Trump Jr pic.twitter.com/drSqNNTEQz— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) January 6, 2021
Regardless of whether Trumpworld wants to accept it, the reality is the president doesn’t have enough votes in the House or Senate to overturn the will of the voters. Nonetheless, at the end of his speech, Trump encouraged his supporters to “walk down Pennsylvania Avenue” and try “to give our Republicans — the weak ones, because the strong ones don’t need any of our help — we’re going to try and give them kind of pride and boldness they need to take back our country.”
Trump suggested he would walk with his supporters but reportedly returned to the White House after his speech. Meanwhile, Fox’s Chris Wallace urged viewers to “understand how utterly unprecedented” Trump’s remarks were.
“For the last hour, we’ve heard the sitting president of the United States refuse to concede and say that he will never accept the results of an election,” Wallace said. “What’s at stake is whether a bunch of insiders in Congress can overturn the will of the American people, 150 million of them, when they went out to vote.”
The Capitol saw chaotic scenes of Trump supporters breaking through barriers and forcing a lockdown of the building with lawmakers still inside of it.
Whoa: Trump supporters going at it with the police on the steps of the Capitol as Congress counts the Electoral College ballots inside pic.twitter.com/LiQhaa5KkQ— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) January 6, 2021
But inside, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell delivered a speech in which he strongly criticized Trump’s effort to overthrow the election, saying, “If this election were overturned by mere allegations from the losing side, our democracy would enter a death spiral.”