Tens of thousands of President Donald Trump’s supporters have marched through downtown Washington to back his unsubstantiated claims of election fraud, as he pushes ahead with legal challenges to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.
A week after his Democratic rival clinched the election, Trump’s lawsuits have made little headway in the courts while Biden has received congratulatory calls from world leaders and forged ahead with work on forming his cabinet.
For the first time on Friday, Trump began to sound doubtful about his prospects, telling reporters “time will tell” who occupies the White House from Inauguration Day on January 20.
Flag-carrying Trump supporters, however, were out in force on Saturday to complain of alleged electoral fraud. Chanting “Stop the steal!” and “We are the champions!”, they streamed from Freedom Plaza near the White House to the US Supreme Court building on Capitol Hill.
Scores of members of the controversial Proud Boys group, clad in black with some wearing helmets and ballistic vests, were among the marchers. Some groups staged small counter-demonstrations but there were no reports of major incidents.
Trump’s motorcade briefly drove slowly through the crowds on the way to his golf course in Sterling, Virginia.
“Hundreds of thousands of people showing their support in D.C. They will not stand for a Rigged and Corrupt Election!” Trump wrote on Twitter. Police gave no official crowd size but witnesses said the number of protesters was far short of Trump’s estimate.
There were however, separate protests in both Austin, Texas and Lansing, Michigan.
As the marches picked up steam, Biden told reporters in Delaware he was getting closer to forming his cabinet.
Biden further solidified his victory on Friday as results from Edison Research showed him winning Georgia, giving him a final tally of 306 electoral college votes, far more than the 270 needed to be elected president and above Trump’s 232.
The 306 votes was equal to Trump’s tally in his 2016 victory over Hillary Clinton, which at the time he called a “landslide”.
Trump briefly appeared close to acknowledging the likelihood he will be leaving the White House in January during remarks about the coronavirus response at a White House event on Friday.
“This administration will not be going to a lockdown. Hopefully the, uh, whatever happens in the future – who knows which administration it will be? I guess time will tell,” Trump said.
With the election outcome becoming clearer, Trump has discussed with advisers possible media ventures and appearances that would keep him in the spotlight before a possible 2024 White House bid, aides said.
Trump has refused to concede to Biden and claims without evidence he was cheated by widespread election fraud. State election officials report no serious irregularities and several of his legal challenges have failed in court.
Federal election security officials had found no evidence that any voting system deleted, lost or changed votes, “or was in any way compromised”, the lead US cybersecurity agency said.
States must certify their elections and choose electors before December 14, when the electoral college will officially select the new president.
Trump’s refusal to accept defeat has stalled the official transition. The General Services Administration, which releases funding to an incoming president-elect, has yet to recognise Biden’s victory.