‘I concede nothing, this was a rigged election’, says Donald Trump
President Donald Trump appeared to acknowledge publicly for the first time on Sunday that Democrat Joe Biden won the November 3 US presidential election but asserted that it was “rigged”, reiterating his false claims of widespread voting fraud.
Biden defeated Trump by winning a series of battleground states that the Republican incumbent had won in 2016. The Democratic former vice president also won the national popular vote by more than 5.5 million votes, or 3.6 percentage points.
Trump seemed to acknowledge Biden’s victory in a Twitter post in which he listed unsubstantiated allegations of fraud.
He only won in the eyes of the FAKE NEWS MEDIA. I concede NOTHING! We have a long way to go. This was a RIGGED ELECTION!” trump tweeted.
Trump’s campaign has filed lawsuits seeking to overturn the results in multiple states, though without success, and legal experts say the litigation stands little chance of altering the outcome of the election.
Election officials of both parties have said there is no evidence of major irregularities. Democrats and other critics have accused Trump of trying to delegitimize Biden’s victory and undermine public confidence in the American electoral process. Before the election, Trump had refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power.
Trump’s refusal to concede did not change the fact that Biden was the president-elect, but it has stalled the government’s normal process of preparing for a new presidential administration.
The Trump administration’s decision not to recognize Biden as the winner has prevented Biden and his team from gaining access to government office space and to funding normally afforded to an incoming administration to ensure a smooth transition.
The federal agency in charge of providing those resources, the General Services Administration, has yet to recognize Biden’s victory.
Biden has spent days huddled with advisers as he weighs Cabinet appointments, fields congratulatory calls from world leaders and maps out the policies he will pursue after being sworn in on Jan. 20. He is expected to continue meeting with advisers in private on Sunday.
Biden has won 306 votes in the state-by-state Electoral College system that determines the presidential winner, according to Edison Research, far more than the 270 needed to secure a majority.
Trump earned the same number of electoral votes in 2016 over Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, a victory he has called a “landslide” despite the fact that she won the national popular vote by about 3 million ballots.
TRUMP SUPPORTERS RALLY
On Saturday, tens of thousands of Trump supporters ventured into Washington to echo his claims of election fraud. The “Million MAGA March,” referring to Trump’s campaign slogan of “Make America Great Again,” drew a crowd of flag-waving supporters to downtown Washington.
“Hundreds of thousands of people showing their support in D.C. They will not stand for a Rigged and Corrupt Election!” the president wrote on Twitter, though most crowd estimates were well short of Trump’s figure.
Trump’s motorcade passed through the crowd on its way to his golf course in Virginia, producing cheers from demonstrators as the president waved from the back seat.
The march was largely peaceful, though numerous scuffles broke out between Trump supporters and counter-protesters that continued after dark. One person was stabbed and taken to a trauma center, the city’s fire and emergency medical services department said. The Washington Post reported the stabbing occurred amid a brawl that broke out after 8 p.m.
Dozens of Proud Boys, a far-right group, marched in the streets, some wearing helmets and ballistic vests, while members of the loose far-left movement known as Antifa staged their own counter-demonstrations.
The city’s police force arrested at least 10 people, including several who were charged with assault.
With his chances of reversing the outcome virtually extinguished, Trump has discussed with advisers potential media ventures that would keep him in the spotlight ahead of a possible 2024 White House bid, aides said.
States are in the process of certifying their election results. The Electoral College meets to vote for the new president on Dec. 14.
Biden’s pick for White House chief of staff, Ron Klain, said this week that a rapid transition is necessary to ensure the government is prepared to roll out a potential coronavirus vaccine early next year.
Tackling the raging pandemic will be a paramount priority for Biden. The United States set a new daily record of new cases on Friday for the fourth straight day.
More than 244,000 people in the country have died of the coronavirus since the pandemic began.
Trump has done little over the past two weeks on some of the administration’s top pre-election priorities. The stimulus deal he tried to ram through in the closing days of the campaign with ever higher offers looks dead for now.
His coronavirus briefing on Friday ended a lengthy time out of the public eye. He’s stopped calling out governors who are pushing more aggressive lockdowns. And even his prized ban of the Chinese app TikTok has been pushed off, for now.
Trump didn’t speak in public from November 7, the day news organizations declared Biden the winner, through Friday afternoon. It was the longest stretch of time without addressing the public since taking office.
The vacuum has been filled by steady speculation about what advice Trump is getting from family members and others about how and when to acknowledge that he’s not getting a second term, and how best to protect his legacy and brand -- including for a possible comeback run in 2024.
Trump’s inaction, coupled with his blocking Biden’s ability to get access to federal agencies by refusing to concede, leaves the nation in a unusual state with its outgoing president not doing the job, and its incoming leader stymied from key functions.
At the same time, abrupt personnel moves at the Pentagon and at Homeland Security have created unease even among some of the president’s allies. The idea that Trump is putting national security at risk is gaining purchase daily.
Senate Republicans including James Lankford of Oklahoma have insisted that Biden start receiving intelligence briefings.
“If that’s not occurring by Friday, I will step in,” Lankford, who sits on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said on Wednesday. It’s unclear if Lankford intervened as promised.
When he broke his silence, Trump suggested for the first time since Election Day that he may have lost to Biden. He made the comment as he rejected more lockdowns in response to a nationwide surge in coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
“Whatever happens in the future, who knows which administration it will be, I guess time will tell, but I can tell you this administration will not go to a lockdown,” Trump said.
On Twitter, Trump continued his claims of victory amid what he says was a “Rigged Election” rife with fraudulently cast votes and botched tallies in Biden’s favor. But the campaign hasn’t provided evidence to back up those claims, and its legal challenges crumbled in several states on Friday.
The president suffered another setback when news networks called Georgia for Biden. That would give Biden 306 electoral votes, far above the 270 needed to win, leaving Trump with 232. All 50 states’ presidential races have been called by news organizations including Associated Press and major networks.
Biden’s leads across a number of crucial swing states are large enough that they should withstand any recount, barring a massive and unprecedented error in tabulation.
At the White House, some aides are working on transition binders for the new administration, refreshing their resumes, and reaching out to friends and former colleagues about potential employment.
Biden, meanwhile, is proceeding as the victor. The president-elect has formed a panel of coronavirus experts, named White House staff, and spoken with congressional leaders and heads of state. Biden -- who Trump mocked throughout the campaign for “hiding in his basement” -- has taken questions from reporters, and his transition team held its first press briefing on Friday.
But while Trump has retreated from the public eye, he’s been busy, consulting with aides and lawyers about his options and political future. The president has begun stretching his days in the Oval Office longer than usual -- not decamping for the residence until after 8 p.m. most nights last week -- and surveying allies about how they think he should approach the coming weeks.
In a conversation with Fox News reporter Geraldo Rivera, Trump said he would “do the right thing” but wanted to see “what states do” in certifying their election results over the next few weeks.
He told Washington Examiner columnist Byron York that he thought that “maybe” he had lost, before ultimately rejecting the idea. Trump said it was important to file legal challenges to examine allegations of fraud.
“Never bet against me,” Trump said.
But Trump isn’t acting like a man wagering he’ll prevail.
Other actions can be seen as a tacit acknowledgment that the president’s days are likely numbered. The administration is rushing plans to auction drilling rights in the US Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in what appeared to be a bid to issue leases before Biden -- who’s pledged to protect the region --- takes office. And Trump announced a fresh slate of judicial nominations Friday, as he and McConnell rush to fill vacancies before the transfer of power.
The White House provided a list of Trump’s actions since the election, which included the approval of disaster declarations for Puerto Rico and Florida, and issuance of a strategic plan on intellectual property.
Deere, the White House spokesman, added: “He’s also working to advance meaningful economic stimulus, engaging members of Congress on a government funding proposal, and ensuring state and local governments have what they need to respond to the ongoing pandemic.”