President Donald Trump teased on Saturday that he might make a surprise appearance at a “Stop the Steal” protest in Washington, D.C.
Instead, just after noon, he flew over the crowd aboard Marine One, looking down on supporters protesting the Supreme Court’s decision to dismiss a lawsuit aiming to overturn the results of the election.
The protests on Saturday drew thousands, many of them in red MAGA hats, but the crowd was much smaller than a November rally in D.C. shortly after the election. At that rally, Trump gave fans a quick drive-by on his way to the golf course, waving from the car window.
Trump’s Saturday flyover was done en route to the afternoon Army-Navy football game at West Point.
He’d tweeted earlier on Saturday: “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”
Angry Trump supporters flocked to Washington to protest the election results, a day after the Supreme Court rejected a Texas lawsuit that appeared to be Trump’s last best attempt to wrest the election away from President-elect Joe Biden.
A group of roughly 100 Proud Boys and their supporters attempted to march to an area outside the White House that’s been dubbed “Black Lives Matter Plaza,” but were blocked by police. The Daily Beast witnessed a man in Proud Boys clothing getting arrested, but it wasn’t clear what prompted the arrest.
Former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn appeared at rallies across the city, insisting that, despite all evidence, the election wasn’t over.
“The truth will prevail!” Flynn told a crowd on the National Mall.
At a separate protest a few blocks away, angry speakers called on supporters to destroy the Republican Party. Nick Fuentes, the far-right, anti-immigration pundit who hosts a podcast called America First, lead a crowd in chanting “destroy the GOP!”
“We are done making promises,” Fuentes said into a megaphone. “It has to happen now, we are going to destroy the GOP.”
Vox journalist Aaron Rupar tweeted scenes from the Jericho March for Trump, named after the biblical battle. While some in the crowd blew on shofar horns, a lineup of speakers like a Catholic priest who specializes in “exorcism and deliverance” took the stage.
Mark Burns, a televangelist and longtime Trump supporter, railed against “Marxists” and “demons.”
“These are our devils. And we will kill them now,” Burns shouted, thrusting his shofar up in the air.
Stuart Rhodes, founder of Oath Keepers, an anti-government militia group made up of police officers and veterans, also took the stage. Wearing a black cowboy hat, Rhodes suggested Trump invoke the Insurrection Act, which enables the president to deploy the military and National Guard to repress civilians.
“If [Trump] does not do it now while he is commander-in-chief, we will have to do so later in a much more desperate, much more bloody war,” Rhodes added.
He then finished his speech and handed the mic back to Eric Metaxas, the conservative author serving as the event’s emcee. “Wow,” Metaxas said. “This guy’s keeping it real.”