Donald Trump helicopter buzzes supporters rallying in Washington

Vastavam web: Thousands of supporters of President Donald Trump returned to Washington for rallies to back his desperate efforts to subvert the election that he lost to Joe Biden. They cheered as Trump flew overhead on the Marine One helicopter on his way out of town for the Army-Navy football game in West Point, New York. The gatherings of mostly unmasked Trump loyalists were intended as a show of force just two days before the Electoral College meets to formally elect Biden as the 46th president. Trump, whose term will end January 20, refuses to concede, while clinging to baseless claims of fraud that have been rejected by state and federal courts, and Friday by the Supreme Court.

Trump tweeted his apparent surprise Saturday morning at the rallies, publicly known for weeks: Wow! Thousands of people forming in Washington (D.C.) for Stop the Steal. Didn’t know about this, but I’ll be seeing them! #MAGA” Trump left the White House around midday for the trip to the US Military Academy, and as Marine One passed over a rally on the National Mall, cheers went up. At a pro-Trump demonstration in Washington a month ago, Trump thrilled supporters when he passed by in his motorcade en route to his Virginia golf club.

That demonstration, which drew 10,000 to 15,000 people to the capital, ended late in the evening with scattered clashes between Trump’s loyalists and local activists near Black Lives Matter Plaza near the White House. On Saturday, police took more steps to keep the two sides apart, closing a wide swath of downtown to traffic and sealing off Black Lives Matter Plaza.

But while Saturday’s rallies, including one on Freedom Plaza downtown, were smaller than on Nov. 14, they drew a larger contingent of the Proud Boys, a neo-fascist group known to incite street violence. Some wore bullet-proof vests as they marched through town. One Proud Boy yelled out, You cops can’t be everywhere! The Proud Boys later dispersed. Antifa activists also were more organized this time, with their own bicycle corps to form bike walls to match those of the police.

Earlier in the day, a group of about 50 men in the Proud Boy’s black and yellow circled the perimeter of Black Lives Matter Plaza, where about 200 anti-Trump were rallying. They chanted vulgar slogans and at one point started singing Jingle Bells. They were apparently under orders not to engage with hecklers. One man who was talking back to people was yelled at and told Don’t interact!” The assembly on the National Mall, called the Jericho March, was described on its website as a prayer rally with speakers praying for the walls of corruption and election fraud to fall down. The rally on Freedom Plaza also featured a series of speakers pushing debunked claims of election fraud to a receptive audience.