Trump supporters gather in Washington as president refuses to concede – live

Trump supporters gather in Washington as president refuses to concede – live

17:33

David Smith

Our Washington bureau chief had a ride in the presidential motorcade today, as White House pool reporter. Here’s another taste of his sketch, now launched…


The motorcade did a lap of Freedom Plaza, where people had climbed walls and other structures for a better view, and turned at the Ronald Reagan Building. Trump’s own hotel was not far away. There were chants of “USA! USA!”, “We want Trump! We want Trump!” and, somewhat optimistically, “Four more years! Four more years!”

It was reminiscent of Trump’s strange pre-election drive-by of supporters outside Walter Reed military hospital, when he was under treatment for Covid-19. A few enthusiasts chased the motorcade, perhaps hoping for a last glimpse of Maga magic before the lights go out.

The view from the motorcade was a reminder that, having spent four years surrounded by sycophantic cabinet members, soaking up the adulation of crowds at endless rallies and consuming constant praise from conservative media, Trump may have thought he was truly loved by the vast majority of Americans.

The election result would have come as a very rude awakening. No wonder he still can’t quite believe it.

17:11

Trump v Fox News, again

As is increasingly common, Donald Trump has taken a shot at his erstwhile friends at Fox News who, he says, like “the Fake News Networks aren’t showing these massive gatherings” in Washington DC.

“Instead they have their reporters standing in almost empty streets. We now have SUPPRESSION BY THE PRESS. MAGA!”

Apart from the observation that Trump’s claim the press is somehow suppressing him might in one admittedly rather sophomoric way make him a sort of President Dennis the Anarcho-Syndicalist Peasant, it should also be said that it isn’t remotely true. News coverage of events in DC in support of Trump today has been constant, if not wall-to-wall.

Trump has been attacking Fox News a lot lately, including claiming its ratings are tanking now he is in great peril – a claim Fox News disputes.

The Guardian has asked a Fox News spokeswoman for comment on the president’s latest barb, and will update you if comment is forthcoming.

In the meantime… this:

16:51

Agence France Presse has an interesting report about Christopher Miller, Donald Trump’s new acting defense secretary, indicating that he could accelerate the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan and the Middle East.


All wars must end,” Miller said in his first message to the US armed services. He said the US is committed to defeating al-Qaida, 19 years after the 9/11 attacks, and is “on the verge” of doing so.

“Many are weary of war – I’m one of them,” Miller wrote in the message, dated Friday but posted early Saturday on the defense department website.

“But this is the critical phase in which we transition our efforts from a leadership to supporting role. Ending wars requires compromise and partnership. We met the challenge; we gave it our all. Now, it’s time to come home.”

Miller did not mention specific troop deployments but appeared to single out Afghanistan and Iraq, where US troops were deployed after 9/11.

A former US special forces officer and counterterrorism expert, Miller was named to lead the Department of Defense after Trump fired Mark Esper.

Trump has been pressing to pull forces out of both countries since he came into office four years ago. Any such action would have to come in the 67 days before Biden takes office on 20 January.

Trump has tweeted that he wants the troops “home by Christmas”. National security adviser Robert O’Brien has said the goal is to cut to 2,500 in Afghanistan by February.

Critics say this removes any leverage on the Taliban insurgents to halt attacks that continue amid scant progress in peace talks with the Afghan government.

16:31

From the Trump motorcade…

David Smith

Our Washington bureau chief has been traveling with Donald Trump today, as White House pool reporter. Here’s a taste of David’s sketch, coming soon in full…


It was a jarring few minutes of seeing the world through Donald Trump’s eyes and indulging his fantasies.

As the White House pool reporter, taking a turn to shadow the US president for print media outlets, the Guardian found itself at the back of Trump’s motorcade rolling out of the executive mansion grounds on to Pennsylvania Avenue.

At 10am the dozen black shiny vehicles with flashing blue and red lights were greeted by a sight seldom seen in Washington, usually a Democratic bastion: hundreds of Trump supporters, cheering and clapping, whistling and whooping, punching the air and hailing their idol as if he had in fact won a glorious victory over Joe Biden.

What a difference from the previous Saturday when Trump returned from a round of golf to be jeered and booed by denizens of the capital who had just learned that he had been fired by the electorate. Some foreign observers compared the scene to Paris after the liberation or a Middle East autocracy that had overthrown its dictator.

But a week later, with Trump adding election defeat to the coronavirus disaster and climate crisis as truths that must be denied, supporters – and far-right groups including the extremist Proud Boys – poured into town to endorse his baseless claims that the election was stolen from him…

More to come from David. In the meantime, here’s our current lead report, including some of David’s work for the pool…

16:12

Ronny Jackson, the White House doctor who put cauliflower in Donald Trump’s mashed potatoes, was picked for secretary of veterans’ affairs, saw that prize snatched away amid a Washington scandal, left the capital under something of a cloud and then ran successfully for Congress in Texas … seems to have no shame:

Ronny Jackson
(@RonnyJackson4TX)

We cannot let the Radical Left steal this election! I support @realDonaldTrump because he fights every day for our country, despite all the nonsense the lying media has put him through. We have your back, Mr. President!

November 14, 2020

It should be noted that Jackson has a history of being, uh, economical with the actualité when it comes to Trump, what with having insisted in January 2018 that if the president “had a healthier diet over the last 20 years, he might live to be 200 years old”.

Of which – about that cauliflower:

15:52

Musa al-Gharbi writes…

The prevailing narrative of the last five years has been that Trump seized and maintains power by appealing to the desires of white voters and men (and especially, white men) to preserve the patriarchy and white supremacy. However, it seems difficult to square these talking points with the preliminary exit poll data from this year’s presidential race.

15:37

Anti-Trump protester describes scuffle with supporters of president

Victoria Bekiempis

Activists in Washington on Saturday to protest Trump’s attacks on the election and refusal to concede defeat by Joe Biden say supporters of the president attacked them.

Sunsara Taylor, a spokeswoman and co-founder of RefuseFascism.org, told the Guardian her group was part of a nationwide protest to “stand on the victory of his electoral defeat … to expose, oppose Trump’s attempt to overturn this election.”

After RefuseFacism.org announced their protest, Taylor said, word of Saturday’s pro-Trump Million MAGA March emerged.

“We thought it was even more important that they not be allowed to dominate the public square and the public discourse,” she said.

Around 11.15am this morning, Taylor said, around 15 to 20 activists convened at the west end of Freedom Plaza, near the White House, and started setting up signs. Because there were a lot of Trump supporters around it was “elbow-to-elbow” crowded, she said, so the activists decided to move into the street.

“His mob of supporters descended on us as soon as we set off,” Taylor said. “They assaulted some of us. They grabbed. They shoved. Every single person had hands put on them by multiple MAGA meatheads, but we held it together. We marched together. We chanted: ‘Trump pack your shit!’”

Ford Fischer
(@FordFischer)

The #MillionMAGAMarch is officially starting in about half an hour, but violence has already broken out.

I’ll have a complete recording up later, but @RefuseFascism came to protest and was physically pushed out by Trump supporters. Some fighting ensued. pic.twitter.com/DdKgb49gLS

November 14, 2020

“It was like a pack of piranhas who circled,” Taylor said, adding that Trump supporters voiced anti-gay, racist and misogynistic insults. “It’s really in keeping with Trump, who celebrated white supremacy and sexual assault.

“We raised our banners. We raised our signs. We chanted and when it became clear that they were so physical, we moved together … and moved further down the street.”

Over the course of several blocks, she said, about 100 Trump supporters swarmed the anti-fascist protesters.

“At times, there’d be five guys grabbing one woman,” Taylor said.

No one was seriously injured. Taylor’s group then regathered, she said, in Black Lives Matter Plaza, the stretch of 16 Street NW near the White House which was renamed this summer.

15:16

Trump is back at the White House, Guardian Washington bureau chief and today’s pool reporter David Smith notes, to “cheers and whoops on 15th Street from flag-waving supporters on the corner near the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture”, but no dramatic hoo-hah among the Trump supporters gathered in Washington today.

He tweeted either from the motorcade or as he left it, too:

Donald J. Trump
(@realDonaldTrump)

People are not going to stand for having this Election stolen from them by a privately owned Radical Left company, Dominion, and many other reasons! https://t.co/RMOa4jKZwA

November 14, 2020

Updated

15:02

Cuomo: New York schools could stay open … maybe

Breaking sideways from Washington under Trump to the US under Covid, Newsday reports on an Andrew Cuomo press conference this morning that contained remarks meant to help parents driven spare by the prospect of schools closing again on Monday, a dread prospect raised by Mayor Bill de Blasio on Friday … but which didn’t clear anything up at all, really:


Cuomo said he believed New York’s Covid-19 infection rate will continue to rise through the holidays, even as he offered a suggestion that he said might prevent the widespread closure of schools in New York City.

De Blasio warned on Friday that public schools could indefinitely shut down in-person learning if the seven-day average positivity rate hit at least 3% citywide. The trendline has shown the rate edging closer to that threshold, which was set in September when de Blasio reopened the schools.

Cuomo suggested that the city add another measure to its monitoring of the virus – that of the infection rate in each school. The measure would require ramping up testing in schools, but doing so might establish that any given school is not the cause of virus spread in the community. Consequently, schools could remain open, Cuomo said.

“If the school’s positivity rate is lower than the community, the school is not part of the problem,” Cuomo said. “I think New York City should consider this.”

Cuomo also said children might be safer in a school with a low infection rate, rather than closing schools, which would leave kids on the streets of a neighborhood with a higher infection rate.

So far, so typical … writes a typical New York parent with three little kids in school, painfully aware De Blasio and Cuomo rarely speak from the same script at the best of times. Which these aren’t.

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