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Former president Donald Trump raged about the election results at a rally in Des Moines on Saturday night, as many people in the crowd seemed to side with the president throughout his unfounded gripes and complaints about the election being stolen and rigged.
“They used Covid in order to cheat and rig,” Mr Trump said at a rally at the Iowa State Fairgrounds. “Remember this is not about me being robbed of an election. This is about the American people having their country taken away from them.”
Throughout the evening, Mr Trump rattled off a series of pseudo-facts and various conspiracy theories about the election results, mostly focused on Pennsylvania and Arizona. The former president specifically cited an audit by private contractor Cyber Ninjas, which only furthered President Joe Biden’s lead in Maricopa County.
Mr Trump’s and the Republican Party’s undermining of the US political system culminated in the violent mob that stormed the US Capitol on 6 January.
Earlier in the week, the House Oversight Committee held a hearing about the Arizona audit saying where Jack Sellers, the chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, called the election “free, fair and accurate”. Still, Mr Trump complained about the election results and the US Supreme Court for rejecting a case by Texas’ attorney general Ken Paxton, which challenged election results in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin.
“Now their approval rating is the lowest it’s been in memory,” Mr Trump said of the high court, ignoring the fact that he appointed three of its justices – Amy Coney Barrett, Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch. “And I believe that’s the real reason their ratings or their approval numbers are so low.”
Mr Trump added that he hoped that the findings were now in the hands of Arizona’s attorney general, Mark Brnovich, who is incidentally running for US Senate.
“And let’s hope that he does the right thing for our country,” the former president said. “I don’t know that he will. But let’s hope he does.”
It was during this moment when supporters started chanting “Trump won,” to which Mr Trump responded by saying “we did” and “the whole world laughs at us”.
“And no presidential candidate has ever lost an election while winning Florida, Ohio and a place called Iowa,” he said.
Many of the attendees seemed to agree that the election was rigged. Plenty had t-shirts or baseball caps that said “Trump Won”. Another had a shirt with Mr Trump styled as Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Terminator saying “I’ll be back”, with 2024 on it.
Carrie Barloon attended the rally and had a shirt saying “We are Q” on the back and “WWG1WGA,” short for “Where we go one, we go all,” a slogan of the QAnon movement.
Ms Barloon said that she agreed with the former president that there was fraud in the election, but she was focused on the 2020 election before thinking about the future.
“We’re going to have to make this election right,” she said. “I have no doubt election that this election will be decertified. 2020 will be decertified eventually. The Arizona audit came out with a bunch of proof and the media is not letting that out.”
At the same time, plenty of elected Republicans came along for the event, lending the former president’s dangerous and misleading platform legitimacy ahead of the midterm elections next fall. Joining the former president were Reps Ashley Hinson and Mariannette Miller-Meeks, both of whom flipped formerly Democratic districts in the Hawkeye state. Similarly, Gov Kim Reynolds spoke at the rally and Mr Trump offered his endorsement of Sen Chuck Grassley, the longest-serving Republican senator who announced recently that he would seek an eighth term at the age of 88.
“If I didn’t accept the endorsement of a person that’s got 91 percent of the Republican voters in Iowa, I wouldn’t be too smart,” Mr Grassley, who was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said at the rally next to the president.
Pearl Rohmiller, who attended the rally, praised Ms Reynolds’ attendance and the governor speaking, but criticised Mr Grassley.
“Grassley, I’m not a real big fan of his,” she said, adding she didn’t like that he recently voted for a bipartisan infrastructure package that passed the Senate. “We need infrastructure. Why does it need to be that big a bill to start?”
In addition to complaining about the election, Mr Trump criticised the welcoming of refugees from Afghanistan, noting how only three percent were qualified as special immigrant visa applicants.
“You’re going to be hearing from those people over the coming years in a very bad way,” he said, also decrying the entry of immigrants from Haiti.
“The people coming into our country are uneducated. In many cases they don’t speak the language,” he said. “They don’t have the skills to make America great again, have you ever heard that expression?”
The former president also teased the possibility of running again in 2024, saying he planned on rekindling his famous campaign slogan by making it “Make America Great Again, Again.”
“It was supposed to be ‘Keep America Great,’ but America’s not great right now, so we’re using the same slogan: Make America Great Again,” he said. “And we may even add to it but we’ll keep it: “Make America Great Again, Again.”