A defiant President Donald Trump peddled conspiracy theories, spread lies and disputed the results of the 2020 election he lost by more than 7 million votes during a rally in Georgia on Monday night, what could be one of the final acts of his presidency before Joe Biden enters the White House later this month.
The president was speaking just a day before Georgia holds a runoff election for the state’s two Senate seats, which will determine the control of the chamber for the next two years and dramatically influence what President-elect Biden is able to accomplish during his first term in office. Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler is facing Democrat Raphael Warnock, and Sen. David Perdue is running against Jon Ossoff.
“There’s no way we lost Georgia. There’s no way. That was a rigged election, but we’re still fighting it,” Trump said, pointing to his loss in the state that was upheld by a recount and certified in November by Georgia’s Republican governor, Brian Kemp. He added about the Senate runoffs: “Forget about runoff, [it’s] one of the most important elections. It’s a biggie. Our country is depending on you, our whole world is watching the people of Georgia tomorrow, and you gotta swamp ’em.”
Trump faced fierce criticism after The Washington Post published a Saturday phone conversation in which he asked Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” additional votes that would see him declared the winner of the state rather than Biden. Raffensperger refused to do so, telling the president that his data was “wrong” and that investigators had found no evidence of any meaningful impropriety or voter fraud, despite Trump’s claims.
The president also made vague statements Monday that he hoped Vice President Mike Pence would “come through” for him when he presides over Congress’s tallying of the Electoral College vote on Wednesday. Pence has reportedly told Trump he has no authority to undercut the tally, which has already been certified in each state, totaling 306 to 232 votes in Biden’s favor.
“I hope Mike Pence comes through for us, I have to tell you,” Trump said at the rally. “I hope that 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.”
Many Republican lawmakers in both the Senate and the House have said they plan to challenge the certification process, a move that will likely have little effect on the election result but amounts to an unprecedented attack on the will of the people.
Loeffler appeared on stage briefly Monday to confirm that she, too, would object to Biden’s electoral victory in the joint session of Congress on Wednesday.
“On Jan. 6, I will object to the Electoral College vote,” she said. “That’s right, that’s right, thank you. We’re going to get this done. Are you ready to show America that Georgia’s a red state?”
Trump stressed Monday that he would not concede, saying he was “defrauded” out of an election and had been let down by the Supreme Court. Nearly every legal challenge his attorneys filed to contest the election was dismissed, and the few actions that rose to the level of the high court were batted down.
“They say I don’t have standing to bring a suit. What kind of legal system is that?” the president said. “But the Supreme Court has let us down so far.”
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