New York, Jan 6: US President Donald Trump and his supporters prepared to make one final, already doomed effort on Wednesday to overturn Joe Biden's election when Congress will put its seal on his victory in the November election.
Members of both the Senate and the House of Representatives will meet in a joint session presided over by Vice President Mike Pence to count and certify the electoral college votes, while Trump's supporters and opponents faceoff elsewhere in Washington.
Trump was expected to speak to his supporters in a highly irregular and potentially incendiary move.
Claiming that there was widespread fraud, Trump and his staunchest supporters have refused to accept the result of the November 3 election and the verdict of the electoral college that voted Biden as president and Kamala Harris as vice president on December 14.
More than 50 legal challenges by them in courts at various levels have failed.
While the constitutionally-required joint sessions have been mostly routine affairs, this time a small group of Republicans led by Senator Ted Cruz have announced that they will challenge the decision of the electoral college during the joint session.
The move by Trump's Congressional supporters will split his Republican Party because most of its leaders like Mitch McConnel, who heads the party in the Senate, are against what will ultimately be a symbolic resistance.
McConnell has already acknowledged Biden's election saying last month, "Our country has, officially, a president-elect and a vice-president-elect. I want to congratulate President-Elect Joe Biden."
Even Pence has reportedly turned down Trump's public requests to reject the electoral college's election of Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris.
Trump tweeted on Tuesday that "the Vice President has the power to reject fraudulently chosen electors," although in reality he is not legally empowered to do so.
Earlier on Monday, he told a rally in Georgia state, "I hope that our great vice president... comes through for us."
In what sounded like a warning, he added, "Of course, if he doesn't come through, I won't like him quite as much."
Pence met Trump on Tuesday, but several media reports quoting anonymous sources said to be close to him reported that he would follow the constitution and not interfere with the election.
The US presidential elections are conducted indirectly with the voters electing members of the electoral college who would vote for president.
Biden won 306 electoral college votes, in addition to getting 81.2 million popular votes to Trump's 232 electoral college votes and 74.2 million popular votes.
Trump won the 2016 election by getting a majority in the electoral college, where the votes allocated to proportionately to states, despite Hillary Clinton getting more popular votes.
When Trump's supporters challenge the electoral college votes, the Senate and the House will go into separate sessions to hear the objections and vote on them before reconvening jointly.
The effort is certain to fail because Democrats have a majority in the House and in the Senate, where the Republicans have a lead now, most members of the party have opposed the challenge.
Trump's supporters plan to challenge the votes of electors from states like Pennsylvania, where Trump has alleged there was massive fraud -- a claim not sustained by courts.
Democrats and Republicans opposed to Trump see the challenge to the electoral college verdict as a threat to democracy itself asserting that it would contribute to delegitimising the election process.
A bipartisan group of ten senators, including four Republicans said that "further attempts to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the 2020 Presidential election" will "only serve to undermine Americans' confidence in the already determined election results."
While Trump and many of his supporters probably realise their efforts are futile, for them it is a payback to the Democrats who tried to deligitimise Trump's election by claiming that he collaborated with the Russians to get elected -- a claim disproved by a commission of inquiry.
When Trump's election had to be certified in 2017 by Congress, some Democrats objected initially but did not persist in their opposition and the joint session presided by then-Vice President Biden endorsed Trump's victory.
Two Democrats objected to Republican George W. Bush's re-election by the electoral college in 2005 forcing the Senate and House to meet separately to vote down the objection and endorse his election at the resumed joint session.