Donald Trump will never accept that he lost the election, even if his legal challenges fail.
Sources close to the White House say he will even refuse to attend the inauguration of a rival he sees as a ‘phoney President’, as he continues to protest that was cheated in a fraudulent vote.
‘He has no concession speech ready and no intention of recognising Joe Biden’s presidency,’ one Republican source said last night.
As Joe Biden was declared president-elect, Donald Trump, pictured left, went to Virginia to play golf as he refused to concede defeat
Some commentators have compared President Trump’s denial of defeat to Adolf Hitler in his bunker depicted in the film Downfall
The President spent hours holed up in the White House with a hardened core of loyalists spurring him on in his angry defiance of the result.
Insiders described the atmosphere inside the West Wing as ‘manic, exuberant, energised and toxic’, with some staff lighting rose-scented candles in an attempt to soften the environment – and to combat the smell of fast-food delivered to the President and his inner circle.
‘His sons and closest aides have been egging him on while no one else dares raise the delicate matter that he has lost and needs to consider life post-presidency,’ said a source. ‘In his mind, he never looked past election day because he is superstitious and he thought it was bad luck.
‘Now he’s hell-bent on creating a narrative that the election was fraudulent and so Biden is not legitimate. He believes there was a conspiracy against him from day one of his presidency – with the Russian influence hoax, the fake impeachment and now the fake election.’
Some commentators have likened the situation to the Berlin bunker scene in the movie Downfall, in which an increasingly manic Adolf Hitler rages against his most trusted generals who dare not tell him the Nazis have lost the Second World War.
‘Trump is surrounded by his family and an army of lawyers and has been constantly on the phone,’ one source said. ‘He is in fighting mode and is saying Biden would be a phoney President and that he won’t turn up on January 20 [inauguration day] as that would be an insult to democracy.’
CNN declared Joe Biden as President elect after predicting that he was going to win Pennsylvania and its 20 electoral college votes
Outgoing presidents traditionally welcome their successor to the White House, posing for photos in the Oval Office to formally hand over the residence. They then attend the swearing-in ceremony at the front of the US Capitol building in Washington DC.
Mr Trump last week accused his opponents of ‘trying to steal an election’, claiming ‘there is tremendous corruption and fraud going on’, despite producing little evidence. He signalled his intention to wage legal war, saying: ‘This is no longer about any single election. This is about the integrity of our entire election process.
‘We will pursue this process through every aspect of the law… I will never give up fighting for you and our nation.’
In the White House, until his round of golf yesterday, Mr Trump skulked between his private quarters and the Oval Office apparently raging about the lack of prominent Republicans publicly defending his election fraud claims. More than 400 people remain in the building, but the staff exodus has begun, including the highest-ranking black official Ja’Ron Smith, who has quit as director of urban affairs.
Thousands of people began celebrating Mr Trump’s defeat outside the White House
Away from the political turmoil, employees have also been rocked by the news that Mr Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, has contracted coronavirus.
Mr Trump watched television coverage of the counts ‘incessantly’ and complained about the ‘biased’ news reports. In particular, according to Vanity Fair magazine, he was furious that Right-wing Fox News declared that Mr Biden had won the key state of Arizona while the count was still ongoing and rang the station’s owner, Rupert Murdoch, to ‘scream and demand a retraction’.
Mr Murdoch, a long-standing Trump supporter, refused.
Meanwhile, some of the President’s inner circle have barely been seen. Vice President Mike Pence hasn’t appeared in public for days, although he has lent his name to emails soliciting money for Mr Trump’s legal actions.
And while Mr Trump’s wife Melania briefly appeared on stage with him on election night, she and son Barron have stayed in their private quarters.
Mr Trump witnessed the scenes of joy as Americans celebrated him failing in his attempt to secure re-election
‘Some of the people you think would be visible are not,’ reflected one source.
There has been speculation that the President’s daughter Ivanka or son-in-law Jared Kushner may have to ‘stage an intervention’ and convince Mr Trump that the White House is lost. But a report by TV network CNN report concluded: ‘Their willingness to lead a difficult intervention isn’t clear.’
Mr Trump has also been livid at his lawyers, accusing them of failing to adequately prepare the election battleground – particularly in the hotly contested state of Pennsylvania, where postal votes postmarked with Tuesday’s election date were eligible to be counted up until Friday night.
‘The President is crazy like a fox. People mock him but he’s someone who prepares well in advance and he has spent months setting up the scenario that mail-in votes are somehow fraudulent,’ said the source.
‘He’s blaming lawyers and campaign staff for not figuring it out beforehand and insisting Republican states such as Pennsylvania stop counting ballots received after election day.’
While there have been claims that Mr Trump may refuse to leave the White House – and face the prospect of being marched out by the Secret Service and US Marshals – Republican sources insist that is unlikely. Regardless, he has vowed to ‘keep fighting.’
‘Nearly half the country voted for him,’ said a source. ‘He hates losers but with this narrative he’s not a loser, he was robbed.
‘That gives him the chance to run again in 2024 or at the very least protect his brand.’
But can these women make him go quietly?
Two feisty women who still have the ear of Donald Trump are among the few supporters who can convince him to go.
Former White House aides Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Kellyanne Conway were part of the small group of loyalists who spent election night with Mr Trump and are expected to play key roles formulating his strategy over the next three months.
Ms Sanders was the President’s Press Secretary between 2017 and 2019 and is now a pundit on Fox News. Ms Conway was Counsellor to the President until the end of August and was still fiercely defending her former boss in interviews on Thursday night.
White House insiders believe Kellyanne Conway and Sarah Huckabee Sanders may be able to convince Donald Trump to admit defeat