President Donald Trump never admits defeat. But he faces a sharp choice now that Democrat Joe Biden has won the White House: Grant graciously for the sake of the nation or do not – and be expelled anyway.
After nearly four tortured days of counting, Biden gave a victory, Trump still insisted that the race was not over. He threw baseless accusations that the election was not fair and “illegal” votes were counted, promised a plethora of legal action and fired all-caps tweets falsely insisting he would “TURN THIS CHOICE, VERY MUCH.”
While some in his circle pushed Trump to grant pardon, many of his Republican allies, including on Capitol Hill, laid eggs on him or gave him room to deal with his loss – at least for the time being.
“Trump has not lost,” South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham said in an appearance on Fox News Channel’s Sunday Morning Futures, dismissing the reality of the situation. “Do not give in, Mr. President. Fighting hard, he urged.
Republicans “very disappointed” after Biden’s victory
Trump is not expected to formally concede, according to people close to him, but is likely to reluctantly leave the White House at the end of his term. His ongoing efforts to paint the election as unfair are seen both as an attempt to calm a wounded ego and to show his loyal base of supporters that he is still fighting. It can be the key to keeping them energetic for what comes next.
“He’s going to fight,” Trump’s economic adviser Larry Kudlow said when it became clear that the president was heading for defeat.
Would Trump ever admit? “I doubt it,” said Trump’s longtime friend and adviser Roger Stone, whose prison sentence was commuted by Trump in July. Stone claimed that Biden, as a result, will have “a cloud over his presidency with half the people in the country believing he was elected illegally.”
Allies suggested that if Trump wants to start a media empire in the next few years, he has an incentive to extend the drama. If he also intends to keep the door open for a possible comeback in 2024 – he would only be a year older than Biden is now.
Trump’s allies egg him on
There are many in his inner circle who own him, including his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. The former New York mayor has promised to provide the president with evidence of voter fraud but has produced little, including during a press conference he held Saturday in the parking lot of a small Philadelphia landscaping business next to an adult bookstore.
Trump’s adult sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, has also urged his father to continue fighting and challenged Republicans to stand with them, as well as congressional allies like Graham.
“What I would say to President Trump is: Do not give up. My advice is not to admit, says Republican Republican Andy Biggs from Arizona in a podcast interview. “Let’s fight this thing through. It’s too important to give up. ”
Some in the presidential race have been looking nervously at Capitol Hill for signs of a Republican defection. But so far, most seemed to give him time.
“I look forward to the president dealing with this but he needs to address it,” Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” Still, he said it was time for Trump “to hand over this discussion to his lawyers, time for the lawyers to make the case they have, both in court and to the American people, and then we must address the facts as they are presented. It has to happen and then we have to move forward. “
“At this point, we do not know who won the election,” Texas Sen. Ted Cruz told Fox News he believes Trump “still has a path to victory.”
However, other political allies and White House officials have pressured Trump to change his tone and commit to a smooth transition. They have emphasized to him that history will be a harsh judge of all the actions he takes that are seen as undermining his successors. And they have recommended him to give a speech in the coming week and promise to support the transition.
Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner has told others that he is among those who have called on the president to accept the results of the race – even if Trump will not agree on how it was achieved.
On Fox News, where prime-time hosts wield enormous influence over Trump, Laura Ingraham voiced the president’s belief that the election had been unfair, while asking him to keep his legacy in mind – and preserve his status as a GOP. kingmaker – by gracefully leaving the office.
“President Trump’s legacy will only become more significant if he focuses on driving the country forward,” she said Thursday.
This story is based on interviews with more than a dozen Trump aides and allies, many of whom spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal discussions.
That the peaceful transfer of power was even in doubt reflected the norm-destroying habits of the now-lame duck president, who even in victory never acknowledged that he had lost the 2016 referendum.
Most aides believed the president would take the weekend to decide on a plan, which will surely involve more legal action. But some aides believe that legal paragliding is more about setting up a battle than producing results.
There were some signs that Trump was moving in a less controversial direction, although he continued to complain angrily to assistants and revived old complaints about Russia’s investigation that began under President Barack Obama.
In a statement on Friday, Trump suggested that he use every path under the law to question the outcome of the election. But the Allies interpreted it as a reluctant recognition of the likely outcome.
“We will continue this process through all aspects of the law to ensure that the American people have confidence in our government,” he told Trump. “I will never give up the fight for you and our nation.”
On Saturday, the White House added that the president “will accept the results of a free and fair election” and that the administration “complies with all statutory requirements.”
Still, there were fears that Trump’s rhetoric would increase tensions in a nation already bitterly divided before the election. Isolated fighting was reported near table centers in Philadelphia and Phoenix.
Pro-Trump protesters – some of those who openly carry rifles and handguns – have gathered outside equalization facilities in several cities around the country in response to Trump’s baseless allegations that Democrats tried to steal the White House.
The Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee have bombarded supporters with passionate bases for cash and have lost tens of millions of dollars since Tuesday, according to people familiar with the matter. Some of the money was earmarked for retirement on the campaign debt, but the rest could be used to hold an aggressive public campaign to continue to undermine belief in the election result.
Biden has meanwhile called on the country to come together.
“For all of you who voted for President Trump, I understand the disappointment tonight. I myself have lost a couple of times. But now, let’s give each other a chance, he said in his victory speech on Saturday night.
Trump, whose voluminous Twitter account seems to provide a suitable post for all occasions, offered this advice in 2016: “Vladimir Putin said today about Hillary and Dems:” In my opinion, it is humiliating. One must be able to lose with dignity “So true!”