President Donald Trump admitted for the first time on Sunday morning that President-elect Joe Biden won the election, but later he insisted that he would not concede and repeated his unsubstantiated claims of widespread fraud. By nearly midnight the lame-duck president completely reversed his acknowledgment of the electoral reality.
The Associated Press and other major news networks called the election for Biden over a week ago, but Trump has consistently rejected the results, and blamed his loss on voter fraud and ballot tampering.
The Nov. 15 outbursts started when Trump publicly acknowledged Biden’s victory in a tweet posted not longer before 8 a.m. Sunday but simultaneously asserted that the election was rigged. Twitter flagged the tweet, claiming his claim about election fraud is disputed.
When an NBC representative asked a White House official if the president was admitting defeat, they responded, “It looks like it.”
Since his victory, Biden has moved forward with the transition process, appointing Ron Klain as his chief of staff and unveiling members of a Covid-19 task force.
Meanwhile, Trump has put former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani at the helm of his campaign’s legal challenge of the election results.
The president has filed lawsuits in multiple states, claiming representatives weren’t able to observe vote-counting, and challenging the validity of certain absentee and provisional ballots.
Less than an hour after acknowledging Biden’s win, Trump backtracked by saying that the president-elect had only won in the eyes of “FAKE NEWS MEDIA.”
As the topic of his flip-flop on Biden’s victory trended on social media all day, at 11:55 p.m. Trump took to Twitter to make his reversal complete, tweeting “I WON THE ELECTION.”
Over the weekend, Trump supporters swarmed the streets of Washington for the Million MAGA March, where far-right extremists clashed with Biden supporters. At least 20 people were arrested Saturday evening, after a day or primarily peaceful protests.
CNN has projected that Biden has won 306 electoral votes, compared to Trump’s 232.
“I think he’s stunned by it. I think that’s why he’s been silent really for so long. He’s lived in his own dream world and been successful at it these last four years,” John Bolton, Trump’s former national security adviser, said on Sunday about the president’s loss.
“The coronavirus was one tragic reality that he couldn’t deal with. His own election loss is, in his mind, another tragic reality now. So I think he’s now trying to calibrate, if in fact I’ve lost, how do I maximize my brand in the days after the coming inauguration of Joe Biden? And I think that’s what’s at stake now,” Bolton told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria.