Donald Trump refused to concede the US presidential election even after tweeting that Joe Biden had won the race for the White House — his first public acknowledgment of defeat since the vote nearly two weeks ago.
Mr Trump’s comments came in a barrage of tweets on Sunday morning, a day after he cheered on thousands of supporters in the streets of Washington who urged him to keep contesting the result of the vote.
An early post on Sunday morning suggested the president was coming to terms with the outcome. “He won because the Election was Rigged. NO VOTE WATCHERS OR OBSERVERS allowed, vote tabulated by a Radical Left privately owned company, Dominion, with a bad reputation & bum equipment that couldn’t even qualify for Texas (which I won by a lot!), the Fake & Silent Media, & more!,” Mr Trump wrote even though no evidence of systematic fraud has emerged.
But later in the morning he seemed to retracted the admission that Mr Biden had prevailed. In one post he declared that “WE WILL WIN” — and in another he added: “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!”
Traditional concessions in American presidential elections involve the losing candidate for the White House calling the winner to launch a peaceful transition of power.
Mr Trump is still pursuing legal challenges to the vote in several key swing states, despite numerous setbacks in court, and has not allowed his administration to take the bureaucratic steps involved in smoothing the passage to a Biden administration.
Before Sunday, Mr Trump had been showing some signs of understanding that he had been defeated in the November election, in which Mr Biden won the popular vote by at least a 51 to 47 per cent margin and the electoral college by a projected 306 to 232 votes. On Friday, at a White House Rose Garden event on coronavirus vaccines, Mr Trump said “time will tell” with regards to which administration would be in power next year.
Ron Klain, Mr Biden’s pick for White House chief of staff, told NBC on Sunday that he viewed Mr Trump’s initial tweet as “further confirmation of the reality that Joe Biden won the election”. “If the president is prepared to begin to recognise that reality that’s positive [but] Donald Trump’s Twitter feed doesn’t make Joe Biden president or not president, the American people did that,” he added.
Members of Mr Trump’s Republican party have largely backed the president’s defiance of the election’s outcome, but there have been some signs of discomfort with his refusal to concede. Asa Hutchinson, the Republican governor of Arkansas, seemed relieved that Mr Trump had opened the door to accepting he would not have a second term. “I expect Joe Biden to be the next president of the United States. It was good, actually, to see President Trump to tweet out that he won,” he told NBC.
In particular, some Republicans have said it was important for Mr Biden to start receiving classified intelligence briefings so he would be immediately prepared to confront national security challenges once he is sworn in on January 20, the day of his inauguration. “Well, I think that it probably makes sense to prepare for all contingencies,” John Thune, the Senate majority whip and South Dakota lawmaker, said last week.
Jeh Johnson, the former secretary of homeland security under Barack Obama, said the contrast with the transfer of power into the Trump administration in late 2016 and early 2017 was striking.
“During the transition four years ago, I personally visited Trump Tower to tell him things before he became president that I thought he ought to hear directly from the secretary of homeland security. And I know he appreciated it,” Mr Johnson said. “It’s a disservice to our national security to make the incoming government wait until January 20 to actually begin to get up to speed on a myriad of issues,” he added.
Vivek Murthy, the co-head of Mr Biden’s Covid-19 task force and the former surgeon general, said it was very important for the incoming administration to discuss the coronavirus response with current officials. “There are thousands and thousands of career civil servants and political appointees who have been working very hard on this pandemic for many months now,” he said. “They had plans that are in process. They had data that they collected that the public doesn’t always have access to and to be able to see that data, see those plans, is what’s going to help us put together the best possible product in the end,” he said.
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