Thousands rally behind Trump, believing he won race he lost

Story by AP

Fervent supporters of Donald Trump rallied in Washington on Saturday behind his spurious claim of a stolen election and swarmed his motorcade when he detoured for a drive-by on his way out of town.

"I just want to keep up his spirits and let him know we support him," one loyalist, Anthony Whittaker of Winchester, Virginia, said from outside the Supreme Court, where a few thousand assembled after a march along Pennsylvania Avenue from Freedom Plaza, near the White House.

A week after the presidential race was called for Democrat Joe Biden, their fury at the prospect of a transfer of executive power showed no signs of abating, taking a cue from a president unrelenting in asserting he won an election he actually lost.

Trump persists even though a broad coalition of top government and industry officials has declared that the Nov. 3 voting and the following count unfolded smoothly with no more than the usual minor hiccups — "the most secure in American history," they said, repudiating his efforts to undermine the integrity of the contest.

The crowd was beginning to gather in the morning when cheers rang out as Trump's limousine neared Freedom Plaza. People lined both sides of the street. Some stood just a few feet away from Trump's vehicle; others showed their enthusiasm by running along with the caravan.

They chanted "USA, USA" and "four more years", and many carried American flags and signs to show their displeasure with the vote tally. After making the short detour for the slow drive around the site, the motorcade headed to the president's Virginia golf club.

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President Trump in the days since the Nov. 3 election
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President Trump in the days since the Nov. 3 election
US President Donald Trump arrives for a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on Veterans Day at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, on November 11, 2020. - US President Donald Trump made his first official post-election appearance Wednesday for what should be a moment of national unity to mark Veteran's Day, now marred by his refusal to acknowledge Joe Biden's win. The president visited Arlington National Cemetery, four days after US media projected his Democratic rival would take the White House. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump attends a "National Day of Observance" wreath laying ceremony on November 11, 2020 at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. - US President Donald Trump made his first official post-election appearance Wednesday for what should be a moment of national unity to mark Veteran's Day, now marred by his refusal to acknowledge Joe Biden's win. The president visited Arlington National Cemetery, four days after US media projected his Democratic rival would take the White House. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
President Donald Trump gives two thumbs up to supporters as he departs after playing golf at the Trump National Golf Club in Sterling Va., Sunday Nov. 8, 2020. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
President Donald Trump salutes as he participates in a Veterans Day wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2020. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
President Donald Trump plays a round of Golf at the Trump National Golf Club in Sterling Va., Sunday Nov. 8, 2020. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
President Donald Trump speaks at the White House, Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Donald Trump waves to supporters as he departs after playing golf at the Trump National Golf Club in Sterling Va., Sunday Nov. 8, 2020. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
President Donald Trump speaks at the White House, Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Donald Trump arrives at the White House after golfing Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Donald Trump walks away after speaking at the White House, Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Donald Trump, center standing, as he participates in a round of golf at the Trump National Golf Course on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in Sterling, Va. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
President Donald Trump leaves the podium after speaking at the White House, Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Donald Trump participates in a round of golf at the Trump National Golf Course on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in Sterling, Va. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
President Donald Trump speaks in the East Room of the White House, early Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
STERLING, VA - NOVEMBER 07: U.S. President Donald Trump golfs at Trump National Golf Club, on November 7, 2020 in Sterling, Virginia. News outlets projected that Democratic nominee Joe Biden will be the 46th president of the United States after a victory in Pennsylvania. (Photo by Al Drago/Getty Images)
President Donald Trump walks away after speaking at the White House, Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Donald Trump speaks at the White House, Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Donald Trump plays a round of Golf at the Trump National Golf Club in Sterling Va., Sunday Nov. 8, 2020. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
President Donald Trump speaks at the White House, Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Donald Trump speaks in the East Room of the White House, early Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
US President Donald Trump watches from the motorcade as he returns to the White House in Washington, DC, after playing golf on November 7, 2020. - Joyous celebrations erupted in Washington on Saturday after Joe Biden was declared winner of the US presidency, as several people poured into the streets of the US capital -- some of them chanting, cheering and singing in front of the White House. (Photo by ALEX EDELMAN / AFP) (Photo by ALEX EDELMAN/AFP via Getty Images)
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Among the speakers was a Georgia Republican newly elected to the US House. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has expressed racist views and support for QAnon conspiracy theories, urged people to march peacefully toward the Supreme Court.

The marchers included members of the Proud Boys, a neo-fascist group known for street brawling with ideological opponents at political rallies.

The march was largely peaceful, with some tension along the margins as counterdemonstrators heckled the Trump supporters with chants of "You lost!"

The "Million MAGA March" was heavily promoted on social media, raising concerns that it could spark conflict with anti-Trump demonstrators, who have gathered near the White House in Black Lives Matter Plaza for weeks. In preparation, police closed off wide swaths of downtown, where many stores and offices have been boarded up since Election Day. Chris Rodriguez, director of the city's Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency, said the police were experienced at keeping the peace.

The issues that Trump's campaign and its allies have pointed to are typical in every election: problems with signatures, secrecy envelopes and postal marks on mail-in ballots, as well as the potential for a small number of ballots miscast or lost. With Biden leading Trump by wide margins in key battleground states, none of those issues would have any impact on the outcome of the election.

Trump's campaign has also filed legal challenges complaining that their poll watchers were unable to scrutinize the voting process. Many of those challenges have been tossed out by judges, some within hours of their filing.

A former administration official, Sebastian Gorka, whipped up the crowd by the Supreme Court by saying, "We can win because he did win." But, he added, "It's going to be tough."

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