Wednesday, 27 Jan 2021

Trump moves step closer to conceding but admits it will be 'extremely hard'

President Donald Trump has moved a step closer to conceding the US election – though he admitted it would be ‘an extremely hard thing to do’.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday he said he will leave the Oval Office if the Electoral College formalises President-Elect Joe Biden’s victory.

However he insisted such a decision would be a ‘mistake.’

The outgoing US president spent his Thanksgiving renewing baseless claims that ‘massive fraud’ and crooked officials in battleground states caused his election defeat.

When asked whether he would vacate the building to allow a peaceful transition of power in January he said ‘certainly I will. But you know that,’.

But Trump – taking questions for the first time since Election Day – insisted that ‘a lot of things’ would happen between now and then that might alter the results.

He said it is ‘going to be a very hard thing to concede’, adding: ‘I think that there will be a lot of things happening between now and the 20th of January. A lot of things.’

Mr Biden, who is due to be inaugurated on that date, won 306 Electoral College votes to Mr Trump’s 232 following the November 3 election – above the 270 needed to win.

Despite the popular vote being settled, the US system means the formal process of the college choosing a president will not happen until December 14.

‘This has a long way to go,’ Trump said, even though he lost.

State officials and international observers have said no evidence of fraud exists and Trump’s campaign has repeatedly failed in court.

Despite this, he and his legal team continue to claim the the election was skewed by ‘massive fraud’ in an unprecedented breach of democratic norms.

Trump spoke to reporters in the White House’s ornate Diplomatic Reception Room after holding a teleconference with US military leaders stationed across the globe.

He thanked them for their service and jokingly warned them not to eat too much turkey, then turned to the election after ending the call.

Although Trump claimed that this may not be his last Thanksgiving at the White House, there were some signs that Trump was coming to terms with his loss.

At one point he urged reporters not to allow Biden the credit for pending coronavirus vaccines. ‘Don’t let him take credit for the vaccines because the vaccines were me and I pushed people harder than they’ve ever been pushed before,’ he said.

Trump’s administration has already given the green light for a formal transition to get underway.

As for whether or not he plans to formally declare his candidacy to run again in 2024 – as he has discussed with aides – Trump said he didn’t ‘want to talk about 2024 yet.’

Biden won by wide margins in both the Electoral College and popular vote, where he received a record of nearly 80 million votes.

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