President Donald Trump has appeared to publicly acknowledge for the first time that his Democratic rival Joe Biden won the November 3 United States presidential election, but reiterated his false claims that the vote was rigged.
“He won because the election was rigged,” Trump tweeted.
“No vote watchers or observers allowed, vote tabulated by a radical left private company,” the president added.
Twitter flagged the tweet as “disputed”.
He won because the Election was Rigged. NO VOTE WATCHERS OR OBSERVERS allowed, vote tabulated by a Radical Left privately owned company, Dominion, with a bad reputation & bum equipment that couldn’t even qualify for Texas (which I won by a lot!), the Fake & Silent Media, & more! https://t.co/Exb3C1mAPg
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 15, 2020
“I concede nothing,” Trump added in another tweet shortly after, his latest missive in his prolonged refusal to admit defeat and the latest indication the president’s “campaign is still very much committed in challenging the result of the November 3 election”, Al Jazeera’s Rosiland Jordan reported from Washington, DC.
Biden’s incoming chief of staff, Ron Klain, largely dismissed Trump’s apparent recognition of the former vice president’s victory in an interview on Sunday.
“If the president’s prepared to begin to recognise that reality, that’s positive,” Klain told NBC’s Meet the Press programme.
However, he added: “Donald Trump’s Twitter feed doesn’t make Joe Biden president or not president, the American people did that.”
US news organisations projected Biden as the winner of the presidential contest on November 7. Biden is currently projected to win 290 electoral votes and is leading in Georgia, where state officials have triggered an election audit and recount, by over 14,000 votes. A victory in Georgia would give Biden 306 electoral votes.
Legal experts have said Trump’s chances of whittling down Biden’s lead below 270 electoral votes – the threshold for victory – through recounts and legal challenges are extremely low.
In such a situation, it is the norm for candidates to admit defeat, although they are not bound by law to do so. Whether or not he concedes, Trump’s term will end on January 20.
Biden chief of staff Klain also said on Sunday that the Trump administration has not yet allowed the transition team the access it needs to prepare to address the coronavirus pandemic or national security.
That access, and transition funding, hinges on Biden’s victory being officially acknowledged or “ascertained” by the little known General Services Administration.
“What we really want to see this week … is the General Services Administration issue that ascertainment,” Klain said.
In a separate interview on Sunday, top infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci, a member of Trump’s coronavirus task force, stressed the importance of the outgoing and incoming administrations cooperating in combating the pandemic, which has infected over 10.9 million in the US to date with over 245,000 deaths.
On Saturday, coronavirus cases continued to break daily records, with over 166,000 new cases confirmed. Hospitalisations have also spiked as the colder months begin in the US.
“As you know, I’ve been through multiple transitions now, having served six presidents for 36 years. And it’s very clear that the transition process that we go through…is really important in a smooth handing over of the information as well as it’s almost like passing the baton in a race,” Fauci said on CNN’s State of the Union programme. “You don’t want to stop and then give it to somebody, you want to essentially keep going.”
Fauci added that it has been “several months” since Trump attended a White House coronavirus task force meeting. He also praised Klain’s past work in coordinating the response to the Ebola crisis under President Barack Obama.
Thousands rally in support of Trump
The comments on Sunday come after thousands of Trump supporters took to the streets of the capital on Saturday to protest against the election results.
After night fell, the relatively peaceful demonstrations in Washington turned from tense to violent.
Videos posted on social media showed fistfights, projectiles thrown and club-swinging as Trump supporters clashed with those demanding they leave.
A variety of charges, including assault and weapons possession, were filed against those arrested, officials said. Two police officers were injured and several firearms were recovered by police.