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Trump Calls on Pence To Reject Electoral Votes. Pence Says He Won't

President Trump arrives to speak to supporters near the White House on Wednesday.
Brendan Smialowski
AFP via Getty Images
President Trump arrives to speak to supporters near the White House on Wednesday.

Updated at 2:22 p.m. ET

President Trump, in an extraordinary speech as Congress prepared to certify Democrat Joe Biden's victory on Election Day, called on Vice President Pence to reject Biden's win and send the results back to the states, something Pence who is presiding over the joint session, has no constitutional authority to do.

Pence then issued a statement, saying he had no authority to do what Trump was asking him to do.

The dramatic developments in Washington played out on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.

Trump, speaking to supporters on the Ellipse behind the White House, falsely proclaimed that "this election was stolen from you, from me, from the country," and also falsely declared that he won "in a landslide."

Trump said that today "is not the end, it's just the beginning" and stated that he "will never give up, we will never concede."

In his statement, Pence said it is "my considered judgment that my oath to support and defend the Constitution constrains me from claiming unilateral authority to determine which electoral votes should be counted and which should not."

Trump repeatedly called on Pence to act, saying if he doesn't, "it will be a sad day for the country," while he torched other Republicans who oppose his efforts to overturn the November results, calling them "weak" and "pathetic."

He singled out by name Rep. Liz Cheney, the highest-ranking House Republican to reject Trump's call to overturn the election.

Trump called on his supporters at the rally to march on the U.S. Capitol, saying he would walk with them. Instead, he returned to the White House.

Many of those supporters are now on the steps of the U.S. Capitol and got inside the building as well.

Trump also listed a wide range of grievances, against the media, tech companies, as well as his former attorney general and the Supreme Court.

He said former Attorney General Bill Barr "changed" because "he didn't want to become my personal attorney."

Barr was among those who stated there had been no evidence of widespread fraud in the presidential election.

Trump went after the Supreme Court, including the three justices he appointed, which rejected his efforts to legally challenge the outcome of the election. He claimed they didn't want to do it, because the news media would say, "They're my puppet," and "The only way they get out of it is they rule against Trump."

His complaints extended to the Republican governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp for refusing to overturn the results of voting there, a state Biden won by fewer than 12,000 votes. He questioned his intelligence and even commented on his weight, essentially saying he was too skinny to have played offensive lineman as he claims.

Trump even castigated Oprah Winfrey for campaigning against him in the state four years ago, falsely claiming he was on her talk show in its last week.

"Once I ran for president," Trump said, "I didn't notice there were too many calls coming in from Oprah."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

NPR News' Brian Naylor is a correspondent on the Washington Desk. In this role, he covers politics and federal agencies.