‘We will never concede’: Trump incites supporters during rally address, mayhem ensues at Captiol hours later

Supporters cheered the president on before heading to the capitol to violent object to electoral count

WASHINGTON — Hours before unrest hit the Capitol, President Donald Trump arrived to his rally to embolden supporters to charge the U.S. Capitol Wednesday to show “fight” for his unsubstantiated claims of election fraud ahead of a congressional vote count to affirm Joe Biden’s election victory.

More than four hours after the rally commenced, Trump arrived in gloves and a long black coat equipped with much of the same peroration that has galvanized his base since election results were tallied more than a month ago. He cast doubt over what he called the “fake news media,” and referred to Republicans not supporting his efforts to overturn the election as “weak.”

“All of us here do not want to see our election victory stolen by emboldened, left, radical Democrats,” he stated. “That’s what they’ve done and what they’re doing...We will never concede. This was not a close election,” the president went on to make claims about the tallies and pushed for Vice President Mike Pence to make an impact when he counts electoral votes.

Moments after his speech ended, an unknown number of those who attended the rally answered the president’s call to “show strength” and “fight” to move their rallying to the Capitol steps. Some of those supporters, holding “Don’t Tread on Me” flags began breaching the capitol around 2 p.m.

At almost 4 p.m. press secretary Kayleigh McEnany tweeted that the president had called for the National Guard to address the violence that had erupted at the Capitol, with some D.C.-area news outlets reporting that multiple people were injured Wednesday afternoon.

“At President @realDonaldTrump’s direction, the National Guard is on the way along with other federal protective services.”

She added, “We reiterate President Trump’s call against violence and to remain peaceful.”

Watch a replay of the Trump rally here:

Earlier at the rally:

About two hours into the rally, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani spoke to a spirited crowd on the Ellipse, just south of the White House. The longtime Trump ally said the president and his team had been disallowed to check voting machines or paper ballots as the waged a legal battle against the election results, which he has claimed to be fraudulent.

“Criminals hide ballots,” he proclaimed to cheers. “Over the next 10 days we get to see the machines. If we’re wrong, we will be made fools of,” he added, if the Republicans are right that “a lot of them will go to jail.”

Georgia State Rep. Vernon Jones spoke during the rally Wednesday morning, stating that he stands “firm for President Donald J. Trump.”

Just blocks from the White House, protesters — many without masks — gathered in Freedom Plaza on Tuesday to decry the vote in the Electoral College. As temperatures dropped to the low 40s and a steady rain swept onto the streets, hundreds remained in the plaza into nightfall.

“I’m just here to support the president,” said David Wideman, a 45-year-old firefighter who traveled from Memphis, Tennessee.

Wideman acknowledged he was “confused” by a string of losses from the president’s legal team in an attempt to overturn the results of the election and didn’t know what options Trump had left.

“I’m not sure what he can do at this point, but I want to hear what he has to say,” Wideman said.

Trump tweeted his support for the protesters: “Washington is being inundated with people who don’t want to see an election victory stolen by emboldened Radical Left Democrats. Our Country has had enough, they won’t take it anymore! We hear you (and love you) from the Oval Office. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”

The speakers included former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, whom the president pardoned after he was twice convicted of lying to the FBI in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

“We stand at a crucible moment in United States history,” Flynn told the mostly maskless crowd. “This country is awake now.”

The protests coincide with Wednesday’s congressional vote count to certify the Electoral College results, which Trump continues to dispute.

In a Tuesday evening tweet, Trump called on Democrats and fellow Republicans to look at the “thousands of people pouring into D.C.” In another tweet, he warned that Antifa, the umbrella term for leftist militant groups that Trump has said he wants to declare a terrorist organization, should stay out of Washington.

The rallies had local officials and law enforcement bracing for potential violent street clashes. Many businesses in downtown Washington boarded up their windows, fearful that the protest could devolve into the unrest seen in May and June when dozens of businesses were vandalized.

Leaders call for peace

District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser called in National Guard troops to help bolster the city’s police force. She urged residents to stay away from downtown Washington and to avoid confrontations with anyone who is “looking for a fight.” But, she warned, “we will not allow people to incite violence, intimidate our residents or cause destruction in our city.”

Unfortunately, those calls for clearing the area were not adhered to by hundreds, according to a viral video captured by journalist Brendan Gutenschwager. A chaotic scene was recorded from the Black Lives Matter Plaza near the White House, where protesters, some hoisting “Trump Pence” flags, can be seen bogarting the area and charging at police officers.

The video has been viewed more than 10 million times as of Wednesday morning. The chaotic scene involved dozens of people with online spectators placing blame on the controversial group Proud Boys.

Election officials from both political parties, governors in key battleground states and Trump’s former attorney general, William Barr, have said there was no widespread fraud in the election. Nearly all the legal challenges from Trump and his allies have been dismissed by judges, including two challenges rejected by the Supreme Court.

On Monday, police arrested the leader of the Proud Boys, Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, 36, after he arrived in Washington ahead of this week’s protests. Tarrio was accused of burning one of the Black Lives Matter banners in December and was found with two high-capacity firearm magazines, police said. A judge signed an order Tuesday banning Tarrio from entering the District of Columbia, with very limited exceptions related to his criminal case.

In addition to the National Guard, federal agents were on standby, in case they were quickly needed in the city this week.

The federal Bureau of Prisons said about 100 “specially trained officers” were sent to the Justice Department headquarters to assist other security personnel but would remain “in a reserve capacity unless needed.”

The Department of Homeland Security, meanwhile, said that unlike during the unrest in May and June in Washington, it did not plan to deploy agents from Customs and Border Protection to the demonstration Wednesday.

“Right now, we have not been asked to deploy. However, we have a modest quick reaction force that will be on standby just in case our assistance is requested,” the agency’s acting commissioner, Mark Morgan, said.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Rich Barak and the Associated Press contributed to this report.