Outgoing American President Donald Trump is increasingly becoming isolated.
Reports have emerged of a frenzy at the White House, the venue of his most caustic speeches during his four-year presidency.
As the office slowly slipped away, with president-elect Joe Biden declared victor in the closely contested race, Trump refused to concede despite mounting evidence that his chances of a second term had gone up in smoke.
Trump has filed lawsuits in Arizona that seek the manual inspection of in-person Election Day ballots he alleges were mishandled by poll workers.
He has vowed to fight to the bitter end to invalidate Biden’s victory. “The simple fact is this election is far from over,” Trump said in a statement.
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“Joe Biden has not been certified as the winner of any State, 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.”
Trump would later take to Twitter where he continued with his unverified claims: “We should look at the votes. We’re just beginning the tabulation stage. We should look at these allegations. We’re seeing a number of affidavits that there has been voter fraud. We have a history in this country of election problems. In Pennsylvania you had an order by a Supreme Court Justice to compel them to separate ballots that were received after the legislative deadline. It required the intervention of Justice Alito.....”
As all this unfolded, the New York Times (NYT) reported that White House officials are moving forward with plans to transition to the Biden presidency without involving Trump for fear that he might try to meddle. The paper also reported that it remained unclear whether Trump would even abide by norms such as inviting Biden to the White House for a meeting or even attending Biden’s inauguration scheduled for January 20, 2021.
Chris Liddell, a top White House adviser, has been leading transition planning for the Trump administration, but Trump has not been involved, one White House official said.
This is in part because of his superstitions about planning before an election, and in part because officials feared he would try to meddle, NYT reported.
Biden also moved ahead with plans to announce a 12-person coronavirus-task force later today. Trump’s coronavirus response has been one of the defining issues of the polls. His response to the disease that has claimed over 200,000 lives has been heavily criticised.
Messages of goodwill for Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris also continued to pour in from world leaders, in a clear indication that the world had moved on without Trump.
As the Biden victory fever spread across the entire nation, Trump opted to while away time at his Virginia golf course.
Outside the White House and other venues across the country, television screens showed young men and women gyrating to victory tunes.
But inside the White House, the situation remained subdued. There were no meetings amid reports that some of Trump aides had not reported to work. By 1pm on Saturday, the Associated Press said the Trump administration was yet to formally begin the transition to President-elect Joe Biden.
A slow exodus from the White House has already begun with senior officials tendering their resignations from the Trump administration.
Ja’Ron Smith, the most senior black official in the West Wing, sent an email to colleagues on Friday saying that he was leaving.
It was a stark contrast to the Biden victory party, which culminated in the president-elect’s victory speech.
“For all those of you who voted for President Trump, I understand the disappointment tonight. I’ve lost a couple of times myself. But now, let’s give each other a chance,” Biden said.
A spokesperson for the General Services Administration said early Saturday afternoon that the administrator, Emily Murphy, has not formally ascertained that Biden is the “apparent winner” of the race.
The formal ascertainment frees up millions of dollars and opens doors at federal agencies to Biden transition staffers, AP said.
There were reports that Trump’s son-in law Jared Kushner, had advised the president to concede. Kushner is married to Trump’s daughter Ivanka, who served as an advisor to the president.
The Daily Mail describes Mr Kushner as White House “de facto chief of staff, keeper of the president’s moods, front man on the Middle East, coordinator on the coronavirus plus the brains behind the re-election effort.”
This means he could be the only man to change the president’s mind.
Conservative TV Network Fox News, which supports Trump, said yesterday it was informed by sources close to the president that he would concede defeat to Biden and participate in the transfer of power if it was apparent that his challenge of the election would fail.
[Wilfred Ayaga and Allan Mungai]