Trump was golfing on Saturday at his Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia when major TV networks and the Associated Press projected that Biden had secured the votes needed to win the White House.
Photos show Trump huddled with three unidentified golfing partners, and then gazing wistfully down the fairway, soon after the election was called.
His political star falling, Trump remained silent on Twitter in the immediate aftermath of the election being called, though his campaign issued an immediate statement disputing the results and vowing a litigation battle.
Photos show Trump huddled with three unidentified golfing partners moments after the election was called for Biden
His political star falling, Trump gazes wistfully down the fairway. He remained silent on Twitter in the immediate aftermath of the election being called, though his campaign issued an immediate statement disputing the results and vowing a legal battle
In his final tweet before hitting the golf course, Trump had written: ‘I WON THIS ELECTION, BY A LOT!’
His campaign indicated he would decline to concede to President-elect Biden, instead promising unspecified legal challenges to try to overturn the outcome of the race.
It remains to be seen what Trump intends to do after his term ends on January 20. Retreat to the golf course? Launch his own television network? Lay the groundwork to run again? And how fiercely will he try to contest his fate?
‘I would absolutely expect the president to stay involved in politics. I would absolutely put him on the short list of people who are likely to run in 2024,’ Trump´s former chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, said in an online interview with the Institute of International & European Affairs. ‘He doesn´t like losing.’
Trump retains the megaphone of his Twitter account, a friendly platform on Fox News and the unflinching backing of his loyal base of supporters, who may never accept his defeat after he spent months insisting there was no way he could legitimately lose and even falsely claimed premature victory.
Trump continued the round of golf, remaining silent on Twitter. In his final tweet before hitting the golf course, Trump had written: ‘I WON THIS ELECTION, BY A LOT!’
Trump’s campaign indicated he would decline to concede to President-elect Biden, instead promising unspecified legal challenges to try to overturn the outcome of the race
Golfers in Trump’s party are seen at Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia on Saturday
Until a successor emerges to lead Republicans – likely not until the resolution of the 2024 Republican primary – Trump remains the de facto head of a party that he has reshaped in his image.
‘Even in defeat, Donald Trump has exceeded expectations and helped other Republicans do the same,’ said GOP consultant Michael Steel, who has worked on Capitol Hill and for campaigns. ‘He will remain a powerful force within the party.’
Still, Trump´s loss is likely to spark a reckoning over how much of Trumpism the party should embrace going forward, especially given that Republicans could retain control of the Senate and won additional seats in the House.
Had Biden won in a blowout, that would have put ‘wind at the back of a lot of Republicans who said character counts and the Republican Party should never put its faith into someone who pushed boundaries liked Donald Trump,’ said former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer, who served under former President George W. Bush.
But because it was closer, he predicted the party would likely ‘continue to be wracked with a split between insiders and outsiders, between the establishment and the Trump supporters who fault the establishment. And the soon-to-be former president´s role will be a huge question mark because if he decides to stay active, despite the close loss, he remains powerful and effective, especially for Republicans.’
Supporters of President Donald Trump wave signs and flags at the entrance to Trump National Golf Club in Sterling
Supporters of President-elect Joe Biden wave signs at the entrance to Trump National Golf Club in Sterling on Saturday
In the meantime, it remains unclear whether Trump will accept the results of the election or continue to contest them as he spends the next three months as a lame duck president.
Those who know him well say there is little chance he will go quietly into the night.
‘When Donald Trump loses there will never be a peaceful transition to power,’ said Trump´s longtime lawyer and fixer-turned-critic Michael Cohen. He predicted Trump would do everything in his power to claim the election was ‘stolen from him’ by Democrats or other forces, just as Trump tried to sow discord as the votes were being counted.
Cohen said Trump was also likely aware that after losing the presidency he might ‘be served with a plethora of lawsuits, both federal and state.’ Trump is already facing lawsuits that accuse him of sexual assault and defamation, and his Trump Organization’s finances are being investigated by New York’s attorney general.
Barbara Res, a longtime Trump associate who recently wrote a book about her experience working with him, speculated the president might leave the country before Biden’s inauguration and perhaps pursue his own media empire.
‘He could put on whatever he wants. He could say whatever he wants. It’s almost like having Twitter explode into everything else,’ she said.