As Vice-President, Pence is responsible under the US constitution for opening and tallying the election results from all 50 states when Congress meets on Thursday (AEDT). His role is essentially ceremonial and he does not have the power to reject the results from particular states.
“Watch what’s going to be revealed,” Trump said in his 90-minute speech. “You watch.”
Referring to the prospect of remaining in the White House until 2024, Trump said: “I think we’re going to do it – I really believe it.”
Trump lashed out at Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, a Republican who had been one of Trump’s staunchest allies, for refusing to help him overturn Biden’s victory in the state.
“I’ll be here in year-and-a-half campaigning against your governor, I can guarantee it,” Trump said at the rally, which may be the last he gives before he leaves office.
Citing discredited figures about unregistered and deceased voters participating in the November election, Trump claimed he had won the election in a “landslide”.
In fact, President-elect Joe Biden won the Electoral College by 306 votes to 232 and won seven million more votes than Trump overall.
Earlier in the day Georgia elections official Gabriel Sterling told reporters: “This is all easily, provably false. And yet the President persists.”
The crucial Senate run-off elections will determine how much of Biden’s agenda he can pass in the early years of his presidency.
But in recent days the contests have been overshadowed by revelations that Trump urged Georgia’s top election official to “find” him the votes required to claim victory in the state’s presidential contest.
The audio recording of Trump’s conversation with Georgia’s secretary-of-state Brad Raffensperger prompted outrage from many Democrats and a smaller number of elected Republicans.
American network NBC reported a Georgia Republican official who was not cleared to speak publicly who said that Trump tried to call Raffensperger 18 times over the past two months before the two spoke in the recorded conversation on the weekend.
At a rally in Atlanta, Biden referred obliquely to Trump’s controversial phone call, saying: “Politicians cannot, assert, take, or seize power. Power has to be given, granted by the American people. We can never give that up.”
If the Democrats win both the Georgia Senate run-offs they will effectively control the Senate thanks to a tie-breaking vote from vice-president elect Kamala Harris. If either of the Democratic candidates lose then Republicans will maintain their majority.
“Georgia: the whole nation is looking to you to lead us forward,” Biden said.
“The power is literally in your hands. One state can chart the course not just for the next four years but for a generation.”
Republicans would usually be favoured to win run-off elections in Georgia but some in the party fear that Trump’s efforts to sow doubt about the legitimacy of the electoral process will suppress turnout among conservative voters.
Biden said that Americans would quickly receive US$2000 emergency relief cheques if Democrats win control of the Senate. Funding for the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and for state and local governments would also flow, he said.
At his rally Trump urged his supporters to “flood polling places” in Georgia because they had been “badly screwed” in November.
“We can’t let that happen again,” he said. “If you don’t go and vote, the socialists, the Marxists will run the country.”
Republican Senator Pat Toomey released a statement condemning Trump’s actions: “President Trump’s call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger represents a new low in this whole futile and sorry episode. I commend Republican election officials across the country who have discharged their duties with integrity.”
Around a dozen Republican senators and over 100 members of the House of Representatives have announced they will challenge Biden’s victory when Congress meets to certify the Electoral College results on Thursday (AEDT).
They will be able to delay the certification for hours or perhaps more than a day but will not have the numbers to prevent Biden from being inaugurated as the country’s 46th president on January 20.
Matthew Knott is North America correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.