Two days after Joe Biden claimed a historic victory in the US presidential election, incumbent Donald Trump is still refusing to pick up the phone and concede defeat, instead choosing to play golf and order his inner circle to mount multiple legal challenges to the vote count.
Mr Trump has 71 million votes (214 electoral votes) from last Tuesday’s election, compared to 75 million (and 290 electoral votes) for President-elect Joe Biden.
But the President continues to refuse to recognise the election result, and his advisers are reportedly splitting on what to do next as he digs in.
Despite the election result being called by major US television networks at the weekend, Mr Trump has spent the past two days playing golf at his Trump National Golf Club and has not publicly addressed the nation.
Instead, he issued this statement via his campaign office: “The simple fact is this election is far from over. Joe Biden has not been certified as the winner of any states, let alone any of the highly contested states headed for mandatory recounts, or states where our campaign has valid and legitimate legal challenges that could determine the ultimate victor.”
Chief of staff Mark Meadows – who confirmed at the weekend he had the coronavirus – is reportedly among the advisers “urging the President to think about a concession”.
White House sources have told CNN’s Jake Tapper that the push for a recount is more about “appeasing the President’s ego and currying favour with him”.
“To be clear, there is no credible strategy of recounts that result in anything other than Joe Biden as president-elect,” Tapper wrote on Twitter.
However, Mr Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and campaign adviser Jason Miller are pushing to hold rallies across the US to demand votes be recounted.
Melania Trump has also spoken privately with her husband about the need to concede the election to Mr Biden, sources told CNN.
The first lady is said to have “offered” her opinion, which she “often does”.
But, after reports of an inner-circle change-of-heart, Mrs Trump took to Twitter – with language similar to that used by her husband – to insinuate that some votes counted might have been “illegal”.
“The American people deserve fair elections,” she wrote.
“Every legal – not illegal – vote should be counted. We must protect our democracy with complete transparency.”
Trump campaign senior legal adviser Jenna Ellis also weighed in on Twitter on Monday (Australian time), saying every “legal vote must be counted fairly”.
“I just spoke with President Trump and told him I love him and am so proud of him for standing firm for the rule of law, the Constitution, and our American system.
“Every legal vote must be counted fairly and accurately, regardless of the outcome,” she wrote.
Mr Trump demanded on Thursday via Twitter that election officials “STOP THE COUNT!”, and later wrote that “ANY VOTE THAT CAME IN AFTER ELECTION DAY WILL NOT BE COUNTED!”
Campaign spokesman Jason Miller said Mr Trump did not want ballots that arrived by mail to continue to be counted. An estimated 65 million Americans used postal ballots.
Mr Trump is against voting by mail because data shows more Democrats use it than Republicans, who preferred to wait for election day. He also spent months discrediting postal votes, and urging his supporters to turn out on November 3 itself.
On Saturday (local time), Mr Trump’s preferred social network – Twitter – warned of the veracity of his claims after he declared himself the winner of the election. That was despite leading US media organisations predicting a Biden victory.
“Some or all of the content shared in this tweet is disputed and might be misleading about an election or other civic process” is a warning note the platform has added to many of Mr Trump’s tweets since then.
However, Mr Trump has continued to allege irregularities in voting and in the scrutiny, despite a lack of evidence.
He has also claimed observers have not been allowed to witness the count and – repeatedly – that he won the election.
Twitter flagged also flagged these posts.
Making the transition
Elsewhere, the nonpartisan Centre for Presidential Transition is urging the General Services Administration to certify Mr Biden as the winner of the 2020 election and begin the presidential transition process.
The group, which advises incoming administrations, has written a letter pushing for the Trump administration and Biden campaign to begin work on an orderly White House transition.
“We urge 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,” it said.
“This was a hard-fought campaign, but history is replete with examples of presidents who emerged from such campaigns to graciously assist their successors.”