Since Election Day, President Donald Trump’s followers have marched on state capitol buildings and the Supreme Court, protesting the election results. They have demonstrated in front of vote-counting centers, filed lawsuits and floated illogical conspiracy theories.
Now, those efforts will come to a head on Wednesday, when the most zealous members of MAGA nation — activists, fans and militia groups — plan to rally one more time in Washington in a dying attempt to keep President Donald Trump in the White House.
Timed to the day when Congress will formally certify President-elect Joe Biden’s win, the MAGA crowd is trying to pressure Vice President Mike Pence and Republican lawmakers to refuse to seat Biden over fabricated voter-fraud claims. It’s a doomed plan, given the makeup of Congress, the absent evidence behind the rigged election allegations and the fact that every important state has already certified Biden’s win. Yet that hasn’t stopped a swell of Trump supporters from making plans — and the president from teasing his own appearance.
There’s one key difference with this march, however. After weeks of failed lawsuits, flailing investigations and Republicans unhitching themselves from Trump’s quest to keep the presidency, the Wednesday rally might be the last one while there’s still a plan — even if it’s an ill-fated one — to subvert the election.
“That sense of panic and urgency will be a motivator for believers to attend rallies that day,” said Jared Holt, who tracks far-right extremism and disinformation at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensics Research Center. “For these groups and their supporters, President-Elect Joe Biden’s incoming administration feels like more of an immediate threat to their agenda items.”
Trump and a coterie of Republican lawmakers have insisted that they can, in fact, mount an opposition to election certification on Wednesday. If a member of the House joins with a senator to object, it prompts a floor debate followed by a vote in each chamber of Congress.
Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama was the first to announce that he and several other Republican House members would contest the election results — and as many as 140 House Republicans have now indicated they may vote against Biden’s win. In the Senate, Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) was the first senator to say he would object, followed over the weekend by 11 of his GOP colleagues.
Yet their objections will only delay the final rubber stamp — likely by several hours — since Democrats control the House and several Senate Republicans have already acknowledged Biden’s victory. Both chambers need a simple majority to recognize the results.
“It will be more of a sideshow than anything else, if that happens,” said Rick Hasen, a professor specializing in election law at the University of California, Irvine.