Donald Trump has piled even more pressure on his Vice-President, Mike Pence, to interfere on his behalf when Congress counts the electoral votes to formalise Joe Biden’s victory later this week.
Trump held a campaign rally in Georgia today ahead of tomorrow’s two crucial run-off Senate elections, in which incumbent Republicans David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler are fending off challenges from Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, respectively.
The special elections are necessary because no candidate received a majority of the vote on November 3. They will determine which party controls the Senate for the next two years.
The Republicans only need to win one race to retain their majority in the chamber. Should the Democrats win both, however, the Senate will be split 50/50, leaving incoming vice president Kamala Harris with the tie-breaking vote.
So, tomorrow’s outcome could give the Democrats control of the entire US Government, or give the Republicans the numbers they need to stymie Biden’s agenda once he takes office on January 20.
Of course, Trump is still trying to stop Biden from becoming president at all.
Two months after the election, and more than a fortnight after the electoral college confirmed Biden’s win, he has yet to concede.
As recently as Saturday, Trump was recorded privately pressuring the top election official in Georgia, Republican Brad Raffensperger, to “find” enough votes to overturn the state’s certified result.
“Hello Georgia. By the way, there’s no way we lost Georgia. There’s no way. That was a rigged election,” the President said after taking the stage this evening.
“But we’re still fighting. You’ll see what’s going to happen, and we’ll talk about it.
“You know, I’ve had two elections. I won both of them, it’s amazing.”
With those introductory remarks out of the way, Trump started his speech by encouraging Republicans to turn up at the polls and vote for Perdue and Loeffler.
“You’re going to show up at the polls in record numbers,” he said.
“You’re going to swamp them, and together we’re going to beat the Democrat extremists, and deliver a thundering victory to David Perdue. Where’s David? David, David?”
He pointed at someone in the crowd, though he couldn’t have actually spotted Perdue, who is currently self-isolating as a precaution after being exposed to a person with the coronavirus.
Loeffler has no such health concerns and travelled to the rally with the President.
“We love our David. I know David so well, he’s respected and loved by everyone,” Trump continued, going on to praise Loeffler as well.
The crowd responded with a chant of: “Fight for Trump!”
Trump started to make the argument that Republicans needed to retain the Senate to act as a check on the power of a Biden administration, before getting a little sidetracked.
“If the liberal Democrats take the Senate and the White House – and they’re not taking this White House. We’re going to fight like hell,” he said.
“I was telling Kelly before, ‘You can lose it, that’s acceptable. You lose, you lose, you go, you go wherever you’re going, and then you say, ‘Maybe I’ll do it again sometime, or maybe I won’t, or maybe I’ll get back to life.’
“But when you win in a landslide, and they steal it, and it’s rigged, it’s not acceptable.
“And I hope Mike Pence comes through for us, I have to tell you. I hope that our great Vice-President, our great Vice-President, comes through for us. He’s a great guy.
“Of course, if he doesn’t come through, I won’t like him quite as much. No, Mike is a great guy. He’s a wonderful man, and a smart man, and a man that I like a lot.
“But he’s going to have a lot to say about it.”
The day after the Georgia elections (Wednesday local time), Congress will hold a joint session to formally count the votes cast by the electoral college last month.
As President of the Senate, Pence will preside over those proceedings.
Trump is hoping he will help Republicans in Congress overturn Biden’s victory by rejecting the official slates of electors sent by some key states and replacing them with pro-Trump electors instead.
Pence does not have the authority to do any such thing. To throw out a state’s electors,Trump requires a majority vote from each chamber of Congress, and the numbers are firmly against him in both the Senate and the House.
Trump went on to slam Raffensperger, along with Georgia’s Governor Brian Kemp. Both men are Republicans who have supported the President in the past, but the Secretary of State in particular has spent the last two months debunking his claims about the election.
“You know, your Governor and your Secretary of State, they’re petrified of Stacey Abrams. What’s that all about?” Trump said, referring to the Democratic gubernatorial candidateKemp beat in 2018.
“Did you see this consent decree they signed, with signature verification, you can forget about it? What they have done to your state – I think most people have no idea, what they have done to your state.
“That consent decree, and these two people, I don’t know. They say they’re Republicans. I really don’t think they are. They can’t be.
“I’ll be here in about a year-and-a-half campaigning against your Governor, I guarantee that.”
The consent decree Trump referred to is a legal agreement Raffensperger struck in response to a lawsuit from Democratic advocacy groups, led by Abrams, in early 2020.
Its biggest effect was to give more voters the chance to cure technical defects with their ballots, such as mismatched signatures.
The agreement was reached in March. Trump and his allies waited until after the election to challenge it in court, and judges promptly threw out their cases.
The President is incorrect when he claims Georgia did not verify voters’ signatures for the election on November 3. Signatures were actually checked twice against voter registration files – first when the voter applied for a mail-in ballot, and then again when they returned it.
After that diversion, Trump returned to talking about the Senate races. Sort of.
“These Senate seats are truly the last line of defence. Now I must preface that by saying – because they’ll say, ‘He just conceded!’ – no, no, I don’t think so,” he said.
“I think we’re going to win, in which case we’ll be the last line of defence. It’s called veto, veto, veto. Veto.”
The US President has the power to veto legislation from Congress, though his vetos can be overridden by sufficiently large majorities in both houses.
Loeffler eventually took the stage herself, announcing to the crowd that she would object to her state’s electoral college vote during the joint session. That sparked cheers, along with another “fight for Trump!” chant.
Trump also invited Georgia Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene to the lectern.
“I love Marjorie Taylor Greene,” he said.
“Don’t mess with her! Don’t mess with her!”
Greene is a QAnon conspiracy theorist. She has previously expressed the belief thatTrump is secretly fighting a “global cabal of Satan-worshipping paedophiles”.
She also subscribed to the Pizzagate theory, which claimed Hillary Clinton and other Democrats were running a child sex ring out of a pizza restaurant.
Before running for Congress she was a 9/11 truther, having said there was “never any evidence” that a plane hit the Pentagon.
She once said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, was guilty of “treason” and should be executed.
Greene has suggested the 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville was an “inside job” designed to help “the agenda of the elites”.
And she said the 2018 mid-term elections, which resulted in large gains for the Democrats, represented an “Islamic invasion of our Government”.
Moving right along.
Trump cited an annual Gallup survey of America’s “most admired” man as evidence that the election result was fraudulent.
The President topped that poll with 18 per cent of the vote, ahead of former president Barack Obama on 15 per cent and Biden on 6 per cent. In doing so, he broke Obama’s 12-year winning streak.
“You know Gallup, Gallup, you know the Gallup poll, they did – I don’t say this braggingly. The most admired man in the world, or the country,” Trump told the crowd.
“I don’t say it. I say it for a different reason. So I came in first, Obama came in second. And Biden came in waaaaaaaaaaaaay low (emphasis his).
“Then I say, and they say, and people have said, how is it possible that a guy who got 80 million votes can’t get any votes for the most admired man? You know why? Because he didn’t come in first, that’s why.”
The speech ended with a few soaring lines about Republicans’ refusal to give up.
“We will not break, we will not yield, we will never give in, we will never give up, we will never back down, we will never, ever surrender.”
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