June 4, 2023

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Trump has no intention of offering concession, campaign insists

Donald Trump has no intention of admitting defeat in the US presidential election or offering Joe Biden his concession, his campaign insisted on Monday.

Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: Photograph: Bloomberg/Getty Images

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Photograph: Bloomberg/Getty Images

“That word is not even in our vocabulary right now,” Jason Miller, a senior campaign adviser, told Fox Business.

Trump has launched an array of lawsuits to press claims of electoral fraud and corruption for which he has produced no evidence. State officials say they are not aware of any significant irregularities.

Biden cleared the threshold of 270 electoral college votes needed to win the White House on Saturday. He beat Trump by more than 4.3m votes nationwide, as Trump became the first president in 28 years to lose his bid for re-election.

Biden delivered a victory speech in Wilmington, Delaware, on Saturday, then unveiled a coronavirus taskforce on Monday.

Traditionally, the losing candidate calls and congratulations the winner, then delivers a concession speech that seeks to unite the country. But far from cooperating in a transition, Trump continues to falsely argue that he is the rightful winner and vow that his team will fight to the end in the courts, mounting long-shot challenges in several states.

We’re going to go and pursue all these legal means, all the recount methods

Jason Miller

In his Fox Business interview, Miller said: “We’re going to go and pursue all these legal means, all the recount methods. We’re going to continue exposing and investigating all these instances of fraud or abuse, and make sure the American public can have full confidence in these elections.”

Miller said he expected recounts in Georgia and Arizona, legal action in Michigan and Wisconsin and sufficient evidence to challenge the outcome in Pennsylvania.

The legal offensive has flopped so far with judges throwing cases out of court for lack of evidence. Trump’s campaign released a dozen emails on Monday seeking donations for an “official election defense fund”. But there was no indication that any new strategy would fare any better.

In a separate interview Tim Murtaugh, communications director of the Trump campaign, told Fox Business: “We have high confidence that as the president pursues his lines of legal recourse – including the recounts in Georgia and Wisconsin, at least – we do feel like there is a runway for the president to win this and win re-election.”

Murtaugh rejected reports that Trump plans to hold campaign-style rallies to push for recounts but promised “grassroots events” such as boat parades to protest Biden’s victory, explaining: “People are upset.”

There is no evidence of fraud in the vote count, which culminated in media networks announcing Biden as the winner.

Trump’s improbable stand against reality appeared to be splitting both his White House and the Republican party.

The president is reportedly being urged by his son-in-law Jared Kushner, lawyer Rudy Giuliani and Miller to keep pushing hard for recounts. The White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, and aide David Bossie and said to be encouraging him to consider throwing in the towel.

Melania Trump, the first lady, tweeted on Sunday: “The American people deserve fair elections. Every legal – not illegal – vote should be counted. We must protect our democracy with complete transparency.”

Trump’s stranglehold on his party is such that only a small number have publicly acknowledged his defeat. Among them are the party’s only living former president, George W Bush, its defeated 2012 nominee Mitt Romney and two other senators, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine.

According to a count by the Washington Post, just eight Republicans in the House of Representatives have described Biden as the winner. The bulk of the party has backed Trump’s effort to pursue legal options or have endorsed his conspiracy theories.

Pat Toomey, a Republican senator for Pennsylvania, told CBS News’s Face the Nation on Sunday: “Seventy million Americans voted for Donald Trump, and they and the president deserve to have this process play out. Now, I understand yesterday the media projected how this is going to end and the media projection is probably correct. But there is a reason that we actually do the count.”

America’s interests depend on the federal government signaling that it will respect the will of the American people

Jen Psaki

There was a hint on Monday that the president might bow to the inevitable when the Axios website reported that he “had already told advisers he’s thinking about running for president again in 2024”.

Trump would be eligible to run because presidents are allowed to serve two terms which do not to have to be consecutive. He won more than 70m votes this year, a strong show of resilience. In 2024 he will be 78, the age Biden will reach this month.

Trump’s intransigence has raised fears of a bumpy transition, with little sign of him inviting Biden to the White House in the way Barack Obama held a meeting with him shortly after his shock 2016 victory.

In photos: 2020 US election (Picture Services)

The General Services Administration is responsible for formally recognising Biden as president-elect, which begins the transition, but the agency’s Trump-appointed administrator, Emily Murphy, has not started the process or given guidance on when she will do so.

During the election Trump refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power and it remains unclear whether he will instruct his staff to cooperate with the incoming team, as custom demands.

Jen Psaki, a Biden transition aide, tweeted: “America’s national security and economic interests depend on the federal government signaling clearly and swiftly that the United States government will respect the will of the American people and engage in a smooth and peaceful transfer of power.”

The advisory board of the nonpartisan Center for Presidential Transition urged the Trump administration to “immediately begin the post-election transition process and the Biden team to take full advantage of the resources available under the Presidential Transition Act”.

Trump will remain president for more than two months. In a sign of business as usual on Monday, he fired his defense secretary, Mark Esper, while it was revealed that his housing secretary, Ben Carson, tested positive for Covid-19 after attending a crowded election night party at the White House.

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