Trump refuses to accept defeat in US presidential election
- Tuesday, Nov 10 2020
Donald Trump refused to accept the result of the US election, as he accused media outlets that called the race for Joe Biden of colluding with the president-elect in trying to steal the White House.
“We all know why Joe Biden is rushing to falsely pose as the winner, and why his media allies are trying so hard to help him,” Mr Trump said in a statement on Saturday.
“The simple fact is this election is far from over,” Mr Trump said. “Joe Biden has not been certified as the winner of any states, let alone any of the highly contested states headed for mandatory recounts, or states where our campaign has valid and legitimate legal challenges.”
Mr Trump had just arrived at his golf course in Virginia when the Associated Press, the media group that the Financial Times and many other news organisations rely on for election calls, declared that Mr Biden had won Pennsylvania and the election.
After he returned to the White House, which was ringed with celebrating demonstrators, Mr Trump’s staff issued a “lid” on public events, meaning any concession speech, traditionally made in the hours after a winner is declared, would not be made on Saturday.
Mr Trump returns to the White House after playing golf at his course in Virginia on Saturday afternoon. He was in the middle of a round when the Associated Press declared Mr Biden the winner. © AFP via Getty Images
The president’s base has largely supported his unfounded claims of fraud. But his effort to convince more mainstream Republicans that the election was stolen suffered a big blow when Fox News, the conservative cable network that has been supportive of his presidency, also called the race for Mr Biden.
Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham — Fox News primetime anchors who are allies of the president — did not immediately comment on Twitter in the wake of the announcement.
But Ms Ingraham on Friday appeared to prepare viewers for his possible defeat, saying that if he lost he should leave with “grace” while stressing that his fans would view him as a “political hero” and “GOP kingmaker”.
Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate leader; Kevin McCarthy, the top Republican in the House of Representatives; and many other senior Republicans did not immediately comment on the election of Mr Biden.
Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina Republican senator and ally of Mr Trump, said it was “imperative that all credible allegations of voting irregularities and misconduct be investigated to ensure the integrity of the 2020 elections”.
While some Republicans have criticised Mr Trump for making baseless allegations about voter fraud, party leaders are in a difficult position because they know the president retains huge support among the party base. While Mr Trump lost the election, he has received 70m votes, over 7m more than his final count four years ago.
Mick Mulvaney, the former South Carolina Republican congressman who served as Mr Trump’s chief of staff, said he believed that Mr Trump would “seriously consider running in 2024” for a second term as president.
“It is hard to make the case that you are among the truly great presidents if you are a one-termer, and he knows that,” Mr Mulvaney told the Financial Times.
Mr Mulvaney predicted that Mr Trump would ultimately accept the result, but “only be after a knockdown, drag-out fight over the results of the election”.
Will Donald Trump ever accept defeat? | DC diary
He added that Republicans in Congress would also eventually accept Mr Biden’s win, but only after the results were certified, because they were unwilling to accept a declaration of victory made by media networks.
“The fact that a media that hates Trump says that he lost is meaningless,” Mr Mulvaney said.
One of the few prominent Republicans to congratulate Mr Biden was Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor who has been a critic of Mr Trump since losing the Republican presidential nomination to him in 2016.
“Congratulations to president-elect Biden,” Mr Bush wrote on Twitter. “I have prayed for our president most of my adult life. I will be praying for you and your success. Now is the time to heal deep wounds. Many are counting on you to lead the way.”
In his statement, Mr Trump said his campaign would on Monday “start prosecuting our case in court to ensure election laws are fully upheld and the rightful winner is seated”. The Trump campaign has filed several lawsuits in the swing states that remained undecided, but in most cases they have been dismissed as having no merit.
The campaign is hoping for more success in Pennsylvania, where it has challenged a move by the state to accept postal ballots that arrived up to three days after the election. Election officials in Pennsylvania have said the number of votes that arrived after election day were insufficient to alter the outcome.
Credit: Demetri Sevastopulo in Washington /financialtimes
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