Donald Trump tweeted angrily that ‘the lamestream media’ should not get to ‘decide who the president is’ Sunday in a sign that he is doubling down on refusing to concede to Joe Biden.
And he was backed by First Lady Melania Trump, who demanded that ‘every legal – not illegal – vote should be counted,’ scotching reports that she might be telling him it was time to admit he lost.
‘Since when does the Lamestream Media call who our next president will be? We have all learned a lot in the last two weeks!’ Trump tweeted from his golf course in Sterling, Virginia, where he had headed for the second day in a row Sunday morning.
The tweet from Trump came more than an hour after George W. Bush issued a message telling him the election’s outcome was ‘clear’ and that it was held with ‘fairness and integrity’ and Chris Christie, one of the president’s most prominent allies, said it was time for him to show evidence or ‘move on.’
Trump’s words raised questions over his understanding of the electoral process. TV networks and the Associated Press have called elections for decades, making calculations on what the outcome will be as votes come in.
But official results take days to count and be certified as official – something Trump suggested he did not realize.
AFTER THE ELECTION: THE DATES YOU NEED TO KNOW
NOVEMBER 23: All swing states election results are certified by this date
DECEMBER 8: ‘Safe harbor’ deadline which means the statutory deadline for resolving disputed results. If the states have followed correct procedures, whatever the result is on Dec. 8 stands, even if one side still disputes it
DECEMBER 14: Electoral college electors are chosen and sworn in
JANUARY 5: Georgia run-off elections for two Senate seats, determining who controls the Senate
JANUARY 6: Congress certifies the Electoral College votes
JANUARY 20: At midday the new president is sworn in and assumes all of the powers of commander-in-chief – including the ability to direct the Secret Service and U.S. Marshals to remove unwanted White House guests
He had made the moments that broadcasters called key states in his 2016 election victory part of his stump routine at his rallies. It now appears he may not have realized that a process went on after that to generate official results.
Melania’s intervention also adds to suggestions that his family are becoming fractured by the outcome, with Jared Kushner reported to have told him to concede,
How Trump will be persuaded to agree to a transition of power remains in flux, with the failure of the intervention by Bush a sign that there may be few options to get the president to come round to his fate.
The only living former Republican president broke his silence, more than 24 hours after Biden was declared the winner in a call by TV networks and the Associated Press, to say that he had spoken to the Democratic victor, and to Kamala Harris, the vice president-elect.
‘I just talked to the President-elect of the United States, Joe Biden,’ he said in a statement. No Republican leader has so far called Biden president-elect.
‘Though we have political differences, I know Joe Biden to be a good man, who has won his opportunity to lead and unify our country.’
And in what will be instantly read as a rebuke to Trump over his claims of fraud and a direct message that he must publicly concede the election, Bush said there were no doubts over the integrity of the result.
‘No matter how you voted, your vote counted,’ he said.
Sunday morning also saw his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani aggressively claim he will contest the election, telling Fox News’ Maria Bartiromo that he had ‘four or five’ lawsuits which would be ready by the end of the week.
He claimed Republican observers were not allowed close enough to see mail-in ballots being processed in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania, and that dead people in Philadelphia had voted in the past.
He also claimed that he would sue in Nevada, which has been called for Biden, without specifying how. Asked ‘where is Bill Barr on this?’ – a reference to the attorney general, who in theory at least could investigate allegations of mass-scale vote rigging – he said: ‘I don’t know and I can’t worry about that.’
Giuliani claimed he has ’60 or 70 witnesses’ to voter fraud, and might make ‘one or two’ public. So far there have been a handful of anecdotal witnesses in videos posted on social media but none who have made claims to authorities.
Will he listen? Donald Trump headed for his golf course in Virginia where he was later spotted golfing – the same place where he learned that the election had been called for his rival Joe Biden
‘A good man.’ George W. Bush said the 46th president would be Joe Biden and that they had political differences, but he believed in Biden’s ability to ‘unify’ the country – another pointed message to Trump
JOE BIDEN IS PRESIDENT-ELECT AND THE RESULT IS CLEAR: GEORGE W. BUSH’S MESSAGE TELLING TRUMP TO GO
I just talked to the President-elect of the United States, Joe Biden. I extended my warm congratulations and thanked him for the patriotic message he delivered last night.
I also called Kamala Harris to congratulate her on her historic election to the vice presidency.
Though we have political differences, I know Joe Biden to be a good man, who has won his opportunity to lead and unify our country. The President-elect reiterated that while he ran as a Democrat, he will govern for all Americans.
I offered him the same thing I offered Presidents Trump and Obama: my prayers for his success, and my pledge to help in any way I can.
Hail to the new chief: George W. Bush made clear that Donald Trump must give up his refusal to concede, saying that he and Laura congratulate the president-elect, Joe Biden, and that he had spoken to both Biden and Kamala Harris and offered them his prayers
I want to congratulate President Trump and his supporters on a hard-fought campaign. He earned the votes of more than 70 million Americans – an extraordinary political achievement. They have spoken, and their voices will continue to be heard through elected Republicans at every level of government.
The fact that so many of our fellow citizens participated in this election is a positive sign of the health of our democracy and a reminder to the world of its strength.
No matter how you voted, your vote counted.
President Trump has the right to request recounts and pursue legal challenges, and any unresolved issues will be properly adjudicated. The American people can have confidence that this election was fundamentally fair, its integrity will be upheld, and its outcome is clear.
The challenges that face our country will demand the best of President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris – and the best of us all.
We must come together for the sake of our families and neighbors, and for our nation and its future. There is no problem that will not yield to the gathered will of a free people.
Laura and I pray for our leaders and their families. We ask for God’s continued blessings on our country. And we urge all Americans to join us in wishing our next President and Vice President well as they prepare to take up their important duties.
Another key member of Trump’s kitchen cabinet, South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham, used the same show to tell the president not to concede.
‘If we don’t challenge and change the U.S. election system, there will never be another Republican president elected again,’ he claimed.
Gingrich’s claims the election was corrupt came from a Fox & Friends interview in which he called Democrats ‘corrupt’ and claimed the outcome was a ‘left-wing power grab.’
‘President Trump has the right to request recounts and pursue legal challenges, and any unresolved issues will be properly adjudicated.
‘The American people can have confidence that this election was fundamentally fair, its integrity will be upheld, and its outcome is clear.’
The message from the 43rd president could hardly be clearer and shows the pressure mounting on Trump to give up his apparently doomed fight to remain in the White House for a second term.
His family appeared split on the issue, with Jared Kushner reported to be telling him to give up the fight and concede, but his sons Eric and Don Jr. aggressively tweeting claims of voter fraud – none of them with evidence – and demands for a ‘manual recount’ across the country.
Vocal allies took to the Fox News circuit this morning, including Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, Lindsey Graham and his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, all pushing for the fight to continue.
But the intervention by Bush will serve to remind Republicans of the damage not conceding could present to the party in the future.
Trump himself called the election ‘stolen’ Sunday morning as he tweeted claims from former House Speaker Newt Gingrich that Democrats ‘stole what they had to steal.’
But he avoided using his own voice in a series of tweets, instead highlighting Gingrich – who had appeared on Fox and Friends – and Turley, a registered Democrat who had spoken against Trump’s impeachment as a Republican witness to the House Judiciary Committee.
The tweets suggest that Trump is not backing down or planning to concede despite signs he is already fracturing his family with his sons and Kushner at odds over whether he should concede.
Gingrich had spent Saturday at the same Trump golf course where the president was golfing when he was told that TV networks and the Associated Press had called the election and that he was defeated. It is unknown if the two men spoke there.
Trump also amplified claims by Turley, a law professor, about fraud, specifically in Pennsylvania, which is the state which pushed Biden over the top to his electoral college majority.
Turley suggested that there could be a problem ‘authenticating’ ballots received after Tuesday and that this could affect the result of ‘the whole election.’
The claim is difficult to assess. Pennsylvania had already separated the late-arriving ballots, and it is so far not known how many there are and whether there enough to sway the election’s outcome.
Trump’s eldest sons launched a fusillade of morning tweets claiming their father’s defeat was fraudulent Sunday, in a sign of a split from their brother-in-law Jared Kushner.
Don Jr. and Eric both retweeted claims from Republican operatives that included the late boxer Joe Frazier voting in Philadelphia and that counting software was rigged against Republicans.
Swinging for the fences: President Donald Trump hit the golf course on Sunday morning in Sterling, Virginia, to blow off some steam after the media declared his rival Joe Biden winner of the election the day before
Low profile: Trump donned a white cap bearing his campaign slogan ‘Make America Great Again’ as he hit the golf course
No mask? Trump did not wear a face covering as he interacted with caddies at the Trump National Golf Club
Get the message? Donald Trump was followed by protesters as he arrived at his club in Sterling, Virginia, to golf
Trump quoted Newt Gingrich on Fox & Friends in his tweet. The best pollster in Britain was in fact an American right-win think tank commentator, Patrick Barsham, who works for the Cato Institute in Washington D.C. but was writing in the Sunday Express in the UK
Another voice: Jonathan Turley is a law professor and registered Democrat who has backed Trump repeatedly
Already packing? The president’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner was seen leaving his home in Washington DC with a duffel bag in hand on Sunday morning
Keeping mum: Kushner declined to answer when asked by DailyMail.com if Trump planned to concede to Biden
Eric called for a ‘manual recount’ of all ballots – which would amount to as many as 150 million – because one county in Georgia said three days ago that it was briefly delaying counting due to a software glitch.
‘Software from hell! There needs to be a manual recount of every ballot in this country right now!’ he said.
And Don Jr. retweeted an anti-concession demand accusing Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania of ‘rampant fraud.’
It was unclear early Sunday whether either son has spoken to their father since his defeat was called by networks just before midday Saturday.
But it was revealed late Saturday night that their brother-in-law Jared has been urging Trump to come to terms with defeat and offer a concession.
The possibility of an ugly family split would add new drama to the last days of the Trump White House – although the two sons had offered contradictory signals themselves on Saturday.
Eric did not attend a press conference with Rudy Giuliani outside a landscaping company in Philadelphia – and across the road from a sex shop – where the president’s personal attorney claimed he had evidence of voting fraud in the city.
Still swinging: Trump is seen mid-swing during his golf round in Sterling on Sunday morning
Nearly there: Trump prepares to sink a shot as a caddy stands by on Sunday morning
Where to next? The president looks out across his golf course during a round on Sunday morning
First son’s complaint: The glitch referred to happened on Tuesday in Gwinnett County, GA and was resolved by Thursday
Claim: In this Tweet Paul Gosar – a Trump loyalist Republican congressman – claimed that software which had awarded 6,000 votes to Biden in error in Michigan in a glitch immediately spotted and disclosed by officials there – should be examined everywhere it was used
Poll watching claims: The Trump campaign claimed in press conferences and tweets that observers were ‘banned’ then admitted in court that they were not. They are expected to sue Monday over not being allowed close enough to see what happened. Democrats operated under the same rules
Claim: Project Veritas, the right-wing group which specializes in undercover videos, has what it alleges is a whistleblower Post Office worker who claims he was told to collect ballots which were then backdated to suggest they had been mailed before the deadline of November 3. The claims have not been addressed by the USPS
Unclear claim: Allegations that Joe Frazier voted in his native Philadelphia in 2018 after his death have circulated on the internet for the last two years. There is so far no evidence to support a claim someone voted in his name in 2020
Nothing yet though: Conservative lobbyist and Trump backer Matt Schlapp’s claims about Nevada were amplified by Don Jr. but he has so far presented no direct evidence
Eric had attended Giuliani’s Thursday press conference in the city where the former New York mayor and Borat prank victim claimed ‘Canadians and Martians’ may have voted in the Keystone state.
And Don Jr. flurry of tweets claiming the election was corrupt were accompanied by an Instagram post with his father paying tribute to his willingness to ‘fight’ in what could be interpreted as an elegy for a lost cause.
The question of who can tell Trump it is time to admit he is done has perplexed aides in his inner circle.
Some have launched public attempts to flatter him into conceding, including former chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, who used a Wall Street Journal op-ed to say Saturday that Trump will concede once he is sure the election was not corrupt.
How he reacted: Trump furiously tweeted a series of claims about the election
Mixed message: Don Jr. posted this picture with his father and what could be read as a tribute to a lost fight, or a demand to fight on
Suck it up, Donald: Jared is telling his father-in-law to concede and get it over with
Suck it up, Donald: Jared is telling his father-in-law to concede and get it over with
On the road: Kushner piled into one SUV while his wife Ivanka got into another car
‘BAD THINGS HAPPENED’: TRUMP’S COMPLAINTS AND WHAT THEY MEAN
‘THE OBSERVERS WERE NOT ALLOWED INTO THE COUNTING ROOMS.’
Trump has claimed before that his campaign were refused access to counts, particularly in Pennsylvania. No evidence has emerged that this is the case. A federal judge asked Trump’s campaign lawyer when he sued for more access in Philadelphia how many observers were in the room and was told: ‘A non-zero number.’
‘I WON THE ELECTION, GOT 71,000,000 LEGAL VOTES.’
Counting so far says Trump got 70,897,293 votes according to the Cook Report. But Joe Biden got 75,439,774. The popular vote in any case does not determine the election. Numbers of votes disqualified as ‘illegal’ for either candidate are unknown so far.
‘BAD THINGS HAPPENED WHICH OUR OBSERVERS WERE NOT ALLOWED TO SEE. NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE.’
The ‘bad things’ has no explanation or basis in what the Trump campaign has tried to claim in court so far. In Georgia they claimed 75 ballots were added after polls had closed when the Trump poll watcher left the room. A judge threw out the case for lack of evidence. There have been other claims of ballots being altered on his sons’ social media but none have been formally made in court.
‘MILLIONS OF MAIL-IN BALLOTS WERE SENT TO PEOPLE WHO NEVER ASKED FOR THEM!’
Some states did send mail-in ballots to voters without them being requested to try to stop people coming to vote, as part of their efforts to prevent the spread of COVID. Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah and Washington all did already. The news states were California, Nevada, New Jersey, Vermont and the District of Columbia. They all announced it much earlier in the year and Trump never sued to try to stop it in court. His campaign is not suing anywhere over these ballots. Trump has claimed repeatedly these would cause fraud but so far has presented no evidence of such a fraud.
‘71,000,000 Legal Votes. The most EVER for a sitting President!’
This is true, the previous record was for Barack Obama with 65,915,795. Obama was not on the ballot and the presidential election is determined by the electoral college, which Trump won in 2016 despite losing the popular vote.
Laura Ingraham, the Fox News 10pm host used her show on Thursday to call for him to ‘stand tall’ and know that ‘it was all worth it.’
‘If and when it’s time to accept an unfavorable outcome in this election, and we hope it never comes, President Trump needs to do it with the same grace and composure that he demonstrated at that town hall with Savannah Guthrie,’ she said Thursday. ‘President Trump´s legacy will only become more significant if he focuses on moving the country forward.’
But Trump’s own state of mind was clear in his tweets Saturday.
Trump is not expected to ever formally concede, according to people close to him, but is likely to grudgingly vacate the White House at the end of his term. His ongoing efforts to paint the election as unfair are seen both as an effort to soothe a bruised ego and to show his loyal base of supporters that he is still fighting. That could be key to keeping them energized for what comes next.
‘He intends to fight,’ Trump economic adviser Larry Kudlow said as it was becoming clear that the president was headed for defeat.
Would Trump ever concede? ‘I doubt it,’ said Trump´s longtime friend and adviser Roger Stone, whose prison sentence was commuted by Trump in July. Stone asserted that Biden, as a result, will have ‘a cloud over his presidency with half the people in the country believing that he was illegitimately elected.’
Allies suggested that if Trump wants to launch a media empire in coming years, he has an incentive to prolong the drama. So, too, if he intends to keep the door open to a possible 2024 comeback – he would be only a year older then than Biden is now.
There are many in his inner circle egging him on, including his personal attorney, Giuliani.
If he is watching his favored news outlet, Fox News Sunday, as his Newt Gingrish tweet suggested, he is unlikely to hear voices suggesting he give up.
Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee – whose daughter Sarah Huckabee Sanders was White House press secretary and spent election night with Trump – scoffed at the idea he should concede.
And Steve Scalise, the Republicans’ second-most senior member of the House, claimed state laws in Pennsylvania ‘were not being followed’ in the counting of late-arriving ballots and that Democratic officials were ‘not being transparent.’
So far the only senior Republicans to congratulate Joe Biden on becoming president-elect have been Mitt Romney, who voted to impeach and remove Trump from office, and Lisa Murkowski, the Alaska senator who Trump has repeatedly attacked.
No other members of the House or Senate who are close to Trump have spoken out to suggest the election is over.
And the Trump campaign itself has bombarded supporters with fundraising emails and texts based on their claims they will fight results in the courts.
They have raked in tens of millions of dollars since Tuesday, according to people familiar with the matter.
Some of the money was earmarked to retire campaign debt – not fight in the courts – but the rest could be used to keep up an aggressive public campaign to continue to undermine faith in the election outcome.
That the peaceful transfer of power was even in doubt reflected the norm-shattering habits of the now-lame duck president, who even in victory never admitted that he had lost the popular vote in 2016.
Most aides believed the president would take the weekend to decide on a plan, which will most certainly involve more legal action.
But some aides believe the legal skirmishes are more about putting up the appearance of a fight than producing results.
There were some apparent indications Trump was moving in a less contentious direction, even as he continued to angrily complain to aides, reviving old grievances about the Russia investigation that began under President Barack Obama,
In a statement Friday, Trump suggested he would avail himself of every avenue under the law to challenge the election’s result. Allies interpreted it as a begrudging acknowledgement of the likely outcome.
‘We will pursue this process through every aspect of the law to guarantee that the American people have confidence in our government,’ Trump said in the statement. ‘I will never give up fighting for you and our nation.’
On Saturday, the White House released a terse statement saying the president ‘will accept the results of a free and fair election’ and that the administration ‘is following all statutory requirements.’
Still, there were concerns that Trump’s rhetoric would inflame tensions in a nation that was already bitterly divided before the election. Isolated scuffles were reported near tabulation centers in Philadelphia and Phoenix.
Pro-Trump protesters – some of them openly carrying rifles and handguns – rallied outside tallying facilities in a few cities around the country Friday, responding to Trump´s groundless accusations that the Democrats were trying to steal the White House.
The Biden campaign made clear its patience had limits.
‘As we said on July 19, the American people will decide this election,’ Biden spokesman Andrew Bates said Friday. ‘And the United States government is perfectly capable of escorting trespassers out of the White House.’
Trump, whose voluminous Twitter account seems to provide an apt entry for any occasion, 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!’
Mitt Romney slams Donald Trump and accuses him of ‘undermining democracy’ for claiming the election was stolen – and calls him the 900-pound gorilla of the GOP
Republican Mitt Romney warned Sunday that Donald Trump is starting to sound like an authoritarian leader, claiming he needs to ‘be careful in the choice of words’ as the president continues to undermine the election results.
‘I think when you say that the election was corrupt or stolen or rigged, that that’s unfortunately rhetoric that gets picked up by authoritarians around the world,’ the Utah senator told NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’ host Chuck Todd. ‘And I think it also discourages confidence in our democratic process here at home.’
‘And with a battle going on right now between authoritarianism and freedom, why, I think it’s very important that we not use language which can encourage a course in history which would be very, very unfortunate,’ Romney added.
But make no mistake, Romney continued, Trump ‘is without question the most powerful voice in our Party. He will have an enormous impact on our Party going forward.’
‘He is not disappearing by any means,’ Romney said of Trump. ‘He is the 900-pound gorilla when it comes to the Republican Party.’
Trump has repeatedly said, even before Election Day, that Democrats are trying to ‘steal’ the election by allowing mass mail-in ballots and extending the period in which some states continue to accept these remote or early voting measures.
‘We will follow the normal course in an election — recounts investigating irregularities — and when it’s over, it’ll be over,’ Romney vowed.
Republican Utah Senator Mitt Romney warned Sunday that Donald Trump is undermining American Democracy by continuing to claim the election was stolen. ‘He is not disappearing by any means,’ Romney said
He also claimed that Trump is still ‘without question the most powerful voice in our Party’ and will continued to ‘have an enormous impact on our Party going forward’
Romney said while joining CNN’s ‘State of the Union’ for another interview Sunday morning, ‘There’s just no evidence’ of widespread fraud or corruption in this election. ,
‘I think it’s important for us to recognize that the world is watching,’ he added speaking to CNN host Jake Tapper. ‘I would prefer the world to be watching a more graceful departure.’
He said while speaking to NBC that while he’s ‘more concerned about the language that’s used, I think it’s fine to pursue every legal avenue that one has.’
Trump has launched several lawsuits against various states and entities regarding the election, including ballot counting and watching and the ruling that Pennsylvania and North Carolina could continue accepting ballots days after Election Day.
On Saturday, Joe Biden declared victory after Pennsylvania projected him the winner in the key swing state – putting the former vice president over the 270 Electoral Vote threshold needed to earn the presidency.
Romney was the first Republican figure to congratulate Biden on his election Saturday, calling him and vice president-elect Kamala Harris ‘good people.’
‘Ann and I extend our congratulations to President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris,’ he said in a statement that was typical of presidential races going back decades but stood out in the contentious politics of 2020.
With his tweet, which came around 1:30 pm after networks called the race for Biden, Romney became the most senior elected Republican to call Biden ‘president-elect.’
Romney became the first senior Republican figure, along with his wife Ann, to congratulate Joe Biden on his election win Saturday
Joe Biden declared victory over Donald Trump on Saturday after Pennsylvania and Nevada projected him the winner in their states, sending his Electoral College vote threshold over the 270 needed to win
‘We know both of them as people of good will and admirable character,’ he said after referencing his wife, Ann Romney. ‘We pray that God may bless them in the days and years ahead,’ he added in the statement.
The 2012 Republican presidential nominee, who was defeated by Barack Obama with Biden on the ticket, has also often butted heads with Trump since becoming a U.S. senator to Utah in the 2018 midterm elections. He was the only Republican senator to vote for one of the articles of impeachment against Trump.
Although Romney backed Trump’s Supreme Court nomination of Amy Justice Barrett, he has also called out the president on numerous occasions when he believed Trump crossed a line. He has also slammed Trump’s handling of the coronavirus.
Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, a more establishment Republican, also congratulated Biden in a long winded statement posted to her Twitter Saturday night.
‘I congratulate President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris and will be ready to work with their administration when it takes office,’ she said. ‘While we may not agree, I will work with them to do what is right for Alaska.’
She noted in her statement that ballots are still being counted and made sure to use language like ‘projected winner’, as several Republicans still question the validity of the election.
‘But it appears we will soon turn to the peaceful transition of power, which is fundamental to our system of democracy and ultimately honors the American people,’ Murkowski added.
She concluded: ‘We must uphold that legacy, focus on bridging our divisions, and meet our challengers together as Americans.’
Murkowski won her reelection bid in Alaska on Tuesday.
Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska also congratulated Biden in a statement posted to Twitter on Saturday. She said there will soon be a ‘peaceful transition of power’
Trump has regularly attacked Romney as a loser and a ‘RINO’ – Republican in name only. He is a popular figure in his home state of Utah, a heavily conservative state where Trump has found some opposition.
The two men dined in 2016 after Trump’s win, which followed Romney calling him a ‘con man’ and a ‘fraud.’ Trump’s team floated Romney as a potential secretary of state, then cut him loose. He would eventually be elected to the Senate from Utah, where he had a home.
Romney could be a powerful force in the new closely divided Senate. Biden has said he plans to reach out to members of both parties, and he will need some centrist Republicans to get his agenda through the chamber and confirm judicial appointments.
It stood in stark contrast to what Trump was saying, after networks declared Nevada and Pennsylvania for Biden. ‘I WON THIS ELECTION, BY A LOT!’ Trump tweeted. In addition to seizing a lead in the Electoral College in projections made by the networks, Biden leads Trump by about 4 million votes in the popular vote.
Trump famously dined with Romney during the transition and floated his name for Secretary of State but then cut him loose
In a sign of how Trump’s insistence is splitting the Senate conference, Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley tweeted Saturday: ‘The media do not get to determine who the president is. The people do. When all lawful votes have been counted, recounts finished, and allegations of fraud addressed, we will know who the winner is.’
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky on Friday said ‘of course’ Trump would concede and remove himself from office if he loses the election.
‘We’ve had a peaceful transfer of power going back to 1792. Every four years, we’ve moved on to a new administration,’ McConnell said.
An aide said he had nothing to ask when questioned on whether McConnell had called Biden to congratulate him, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer did.
What do you when you’re NOT the world’s most powerful man? How Donald Trump needs to make money and dodge prosecutors – so will he run AGAIN in 2024 or use his megaphone to keep the Republican party his own?
Amid all the uncertainty about what comes next for the nation, there is little clarity about what comes next for Donald Trump.
The nation’s 45th president leaves office at age 74 as one of just four U.S. presidents to be defeated after a single term, reportedly millions in debt, but with millions of supporters having rallied to his side.
The traditional modern path for a post president is to retreat from the limelight, perhaps score a book deal, and dedicate himself to working on a library and legacy – with the occasional paid speech to boost their lifestyle.
In the case of President Trump, he returns to ‘normal life’ having come into office as a celebrity and a billionaire – although press reports this fall have revealed his business is deeply leveraged and has been hit hard by the coronavirus.
Even if Trump wanted to seek refuge at home and focus on his golf game, it is not clear he can afford to to it.
GET BACK INTO THE HOTEL BUSINESS EVEN AS BOOKINGS TANK DUE TO COVID
Trump can return to his family business, although bookings are down amid the coronavirus
An immediate question is what to do with his business. Trump infuriated critics when he elected to retain ownership of his business when he took office. It has been run in his absence by Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and an executive. He could retake the helm and return to global building deals that were put on hold when he took office.
Complicating this path have been drop-offs in bookings at hotels and golf properties due to the pandemic. The Trump Organization already initiated and pulled back an effort to sell his luxury Washington, D.C. hotel, which has been the source of an emoluments lawsuit.
Trump’s ‘brand’ is still marketable, but tenants and buildings overseas sued to have his name stripped away from some Trump-branded properties after his election.
A pressing part of the equation is Trump’s debt. He owes more than $1 billion, according to Forbes.
The New York Times reported Trump had to personally guarantee $421 million coming due. He called that amount a ‘peanut’ during an ABC town hall.
To make ends meet, his company could liquidate some assets, something that might have given a bad impression while seeking reelection.
MOVE TO FLORIDA
Trump could move to Florida, which he made his official residence
Trump moved his official residence from New York to Florida while in office. It got him a break on state taxes, and may have helped him carry the state.
Moving to Mar-a-Lago would install Trump back in the luxury club where he spent a good chunk of his presidency.
Fellow New Yorker Charles Schumer turned a Florida move into a taunt Saturday. ‘ I say to Donald Trump, you lost. No more games. Go home, go home to Florida. Stop delaying. Stop making up lies about the election,’ he said.
But that might not be so simple. Mar-a-Lago’s bylaws under an agreement from 1993 when Trump converted the facility into a private club. Guests can only stay a week at a time for three non-consecutive weeks each year.
Golf is certainly on his mind – he played at his Virginia course Saturday as networks called the race for Joe Biden.
The size of Trump’s vote could easily tempt him to not give up on politics. Trump’s repeated unfounded claims that he ‘won’ the election don’t just bolster his legal strategy and his fundraising – they set up a potential rationale for running for a restoration.
Adherents and critics agree that Trump build a following greater than himself, with Trumpism to continue even after he leaves office. What better way than to have it headed by Trump?
He’ll be 77 years old when he needs will be actively campaigning if he runs again – the same age Biden is now. The Constitution allows him another four years.
He has already had the coronavirus and pulled through. Biden inherits a nation with millions on unemployment and more than 100,000 new coronavirus cases each day. Depending on factors within and outside his control, the country could be in for a difficult ride.
By keeping himself in the game, Trump also could claim that any ongoing investigations or prosecutions are political in nature as a form of defense.
TURN OVER THE KEYS TO IVANKA
Trump could seek to turn over his political fortune to one of his children, such as Ivanka Trump
Speculation has been rampant about who might be heir to Trump’s political empire. White House advisor Ivanka Trump has always been in the mix. She has softer edges than Donald Trump Jr., who asked supporters to wage ‘total war’ over the vote count.
Her own statement on Twitter was much more open to interpretation. ‘Every legally cast vote should be counted. Every illegally cast vote should not. This should not be controversial. This is not a partisan statement — free and fair elections are the foundation of our democracy,’ she wrote.
Such a move would certainly keep Trump’s movement inside the family. But all of Trump’s ‘deplorables’ might not accept the substitution. She is sometimes identified with Trump’s softer causes over the more militant ones. Some forces in Trump-world are already grumbling about her husband Jared Kushner’s role overseeing Trump’s unsuccessful campaign.
After Don Jr. admonished potential 2024 candidates on Twitter, several stepped up to defend his father more forcefully.
Trump also could seek to prop up whoever he determines to be a political heir, like Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis, who helped deliver his state.
LEAVE THE COUNTRY
Trump said last month he might have to leave the country if Joe Biden won
Among Trump’s most die-hard opponents, those who consider him a criminal, a Trump third act outside the territorial U.S. has emerged as something that could happen.
Trump is being probed by prosecutors in New York for potential bank and insurance fraud, there are active lawsuits from women who accuse him of rape or assault, and he has been under continuous audit from the IRS from before he took office.
Setting up shop in a country friendly to him could provide a measure of insulation and protection, and Trump has a multitude of stamps on his passport – plus a list of leaders he cultivated while in office.
Trump actually spoke publicly about this prospect in October. ‘Could you imagine if I lose? My whole life, what am I going to do? I’m going to say, ‘I lost to the worst candidate in the history of politics.’ I’m not going to feel so good. Maybe I’ll have to leave the country?’
GET HIS LAWYERS TO MAKE A DEAL
President Donald Trump watches from the motorcade as he returns to the White House in Washington, DC, after playing golf on November 7, 2020. Trump could instruct his attorneys to try to seek a plea bargain with prosecutors in New York, who are investigating him over allegations of tax and insurance fraud, which Trump denies
Trump could seek to get a pardon from Joe Biden to avoid the divisions of a former president being prosecuted – even though he spoke openly during his own term about locking up Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Barack Obama, and others.
He also could seek to pardon himself, but it’s not clear he has the power to do so.
An easier path might be to seek a plea agreement with prosecutors, and reach a negotiated settlement with the government over millions in tax refunds he claimed that may not be legitimate.
CONSULT MELANIA FIRST
First Lady Melania Trump gave up her life in New York to move to the White House
An X-factor in Trump’s plans is first lady Melania Trump. She was secretly recording complaining about having to deal with White House Christmas decorations in conversations that came out this fall – an indication she was not thrilled with every aspect of her life in the White House.
She gave up a career as a New York model, left a Fifth Avenue penthouse apartment where she was raising school-age son Barron, and according to a book renegotiated a pre-nuptial agreement.
Her role vouching for the president gave him a political assist.
She accompanied her husband on trips around the world, traveled to visit victims of hurricanes, started her ‘Be Best’ program, and stood by him during an array of accusations from Democratic impeachment to the Stormy Daniels scandal. She even campaigned for him weeks after testing positive for the coronavirus after attending a Whtie House pep rally identified as a superspreader event.
It may be Melania’s turn to make the next big life decision such as where the couple lives.
BECOME D.C.’S OTHER EX-PRESIDENT
Trump is not popular in Washington, DC, but his son Barron attends school in the area
It might seem unlikely for a president who went to war on the ‘swamp’ and is despised in D.C. proper, but Donald Trump could elect to set up shop in Washington.
Barron, 14, goes to private school in the Washington area, and may have broken records for staying out of the media save for occasional appearances boarding Marine One and comments about his height from his dad. Even when he contracted the coronavirus it was swallowed up in the story of the campaign.
It is a difficult age, and Barron already was uprooted from New York to move to the White House.
Trump could take the lead from former President Barack Obama, who ended up buying a house in the swank Kalorama neighborhood to see his children through school.
GET A NEW GHOSTWRITER OR PEN A MEMOIR
The Obamas landed a book advance that was reportedly worth $8 million. Although he lost to Biden by around 4 million votes, Trump has millions of fervent followers.
Although he established a reputation for skipping briefing books and demanding charts and short explanations during meetings, now could be the time for Trump to hit the books and pen a memoir.
He has regularly complained about others who benefit from appointments he gives them, only to later cash in. This time it could be Trump getting paid to spill secrets.
START THAT TV NETWORK
Trump has been in a rage about Fox News, which he complained about during the final days before the election. He years for the days or Roger Ailes. Trump and his team were reportedly infuriated when Fox made an early call for Arizona going for Joe Biden – making it much more of a stretch for him to declare victory Tuesday night.
He could seek to set up a rival TV network, an idea that went around in 2016 in the event that he lost. There are a range of Trump loyalists he could seek to pluck from Fox if he is able to match their big salaries. He could also get constant bookings from allies seeking to curry favor with Trump-world to boost their own political prospects.
It could be a platform for Trump or his kin to launch political campaigns, or find ways to monetize the MAGA movement when he is out of the White House. Trump has regularly complained about how TV ratings would tank if he left office.