President Donald Trump pressed his hopeless case for overturning the election to a crowd of supporters Wednesday, fueling the grievances of a mob that then stormed the Capitol and disrupted the confirmation of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.
Drawing on baseless conspiracies, Trump unleashed a torrent of misinformation to supporters already convinced that his defeat was unfair, unswayed by the sweeping verdict of election officials, judges and justices and Trump’s own officials in the departments of Justice and Homeland Security that the Nov. 3 election was cleanly run and fairly counted.
Pro-Trump protesters then marched to the Capitol and some bulled their way inside, making for a scene of violent clashes with law enforcement and lawmakers huddling in lockdown.
Trump has been telling wildly false tales about the election outcome for two months in a flailing effort to upend Biden’s win. Trump didn’t pull back now, in a moment of reckoning that is sure to seal his defeat despite the chaos and moves by some of his allies in Congress to drag out the certification of the Electoral College results.
He also floated baseless theories about the two Senate elections Tuesday in Georgia, where Democrats picked up both seats and seized back control of the chamber.
A sampling of claims from Trump and the proceedings in Congress, which resumed in the evening after authorities secured the Capitol:
REP. PAUL GOSAR OF Arizona: “I am proceeding with my objections on behalf of Arizona. ... Leftist violence — or any violence — will not deter our mission for truth and transparency.” — tweet on why he is pressing a challenge of the presidential election result in Arizona despite the attack on the Capitol.
THE FACTS: To be clear, the mob that overran Congress on Wednesday and clashed with police was made up of Trump supporters, not left-wing groups, and the conspiracy theories Trump has been promoting about the election are from far-right corners of the internet.
TRUMP ON VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE
TRUMP, on the election results: “If Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election." — rally.
TRUMP: Pence “has to agree to send it back.” — rally.
TRUMP: "All Mike Pence has to do is send them back to the States, AND WE WIN. Do it Mike, this is a time for extreme courage!” — tweet Wednesday.
THE FACTS: This is a fantasy. Vice President Mike Pence has no authority under the Constitution, congressional rules, the law or custom to refer the results back to the states. He has no standing to do what Trump calls “the right thing.”
Pence is presiding over the congressional tally of Electoral College votes and will carry out his ceremonial duty to announce who has won the majority of votes for president and vice president. Whatever sympathetic words he may offer for Trump's grievances, Pence has no path for avoiding the certification of Biden as the next president and Kamala Harris as vice president.
Nor is he expected to try, despite pressure from Trump to do just that, according to people close to him.
Biden won 306 electoral votes to Trump's 232. It takes 270 to win the presidency.
TRUMP, on the states: “They want to recertify." — rally.
TRUMP: “The States want to redo their votes. They found out they voted on a FRAUD. Legislatures never approved. Let them do it. BE STRONG!” __ tweet Wednesday.
THE FACTS: That's also false. All the states have certified their results as fair and accurate, a judgment made by Republican and Democratic officials alike. There is no prospect for a do-over. Nor has there been a sudden revelation of fraud.
State and federal election officials and Trump's own attorney general said no systematic fraud was found in the election and no errors of a scale that could possibly change the result. Judges have widely agreed, whether appointed by Republicans or Democrats. And Trump had two challenges tossed by the Supreme Court, which includes three Trump- nominated justices.
TRUMP: “We didn't lose.” — rally.
THE FACTS: He lost.
Biden won by the same Electoral College margin that Trump achieved in 2016 — a result that Trump called a landslide when he won it.
Unlike Trump, Biden also won the popular vote.
TRUMP, on the results from Pennsylvania: “You had 205,000 more votes than voters.”
THE FACTS: Not true. Here Trump tries to give weight to a baseless conspiracy theory from social media and untrustworthy websites.
The claim that Pennsylvania’s certification of Biden’s win in the state was fraudulent comes from a period when records were not consistent. The numbers certified by Pennsylvania counties showed that 6.9 million ballots were cast, while a different state data system showed 6.7 million voters turned out to the polls. There was a simple explanation: Election officials hadn’t yet finished uploading their data to the latter system.
Wanda Murren, communications director for the Pennsylvania Department of State, which is responsible for elections, said people were peddling “obvious misinformation” on this matter. Trump is among them.
TRUMP: “In Detroit, turnout was 139 percent of registered voters.” — rally.
THE FACTS: No, it wasn’t. The city’s official election results show turnout for the Nov. 3 election was just shy of 51%, with 257,619 ballots cast by the city’s 506,305 registered voters.
TRUMP, on Georgia: “Election officials pulled boxes, Democrats, and suitcases of ballots out from under a table and illegally scanned them for nearly two hours, totally unsupervised.”
THE FACTS: That’s wrong. Surveillance video from Atlanta’s State Farm Arena shows election workers were processing ballots normally, Georgia and Fulton County election officials say.
State law does not require independent monitors to watch that process, but both an independent monitor and an investigator arrived to oversee the count.
The entire video shows poll workers had earlier opened the ballots in front of poll observers and the media. The workers then packed them back into wheeled containers because they thought they were done for the night. Election officials, however, asked them to keep counting, which is why they pulled the containers back out again to finish.
GEORGIA SENATE RACES
TRUMP, referring to Georgia: “They just happened to find 50,000 ballots late last night.” — tweet Wednesday.
TRUMP: “Looks like they are setting up a big ‘voter dump’ against the Republican candidates. Waiting to see how many votes they need?” — tweet Tuesday night.
THE FACTS: No, Georgia election officials didn't just “find” 50,000 ballots or manipulate a “voter dump” to disadvantage Republicans.
It's typical for big batches of results to be released on election night and the next morning, with leads often changing as a result.
On Tuesday, for example, Floyd County, Georgia, a Republican stronghold, released all of its results at once, giving a big early boost to the GOP candidates, Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue. Such results were countered later when population-dense counties, which often favor Democratic candidates, released their numbers.
Loeffler ultimately lost to Democrat Raphael Warnock, nd Democrat Jon Ossoff ousted Republican David Perdue.