In a surprise news conference on Thanksgiving Day, President Trump took questions from the press for the first time since losing re-election—but he doubled down on his “rigged” election claims and appeared to deny the reality that his presidency is ending, saying it will be “very hard” for him to concede to Joe Biden.
“I think it’s not right he’s trying to pick a Cabinet,” Trump complained after railing against the supposed “massive fraud” that he claims gave Biden victory.
Reiterating his claims of voter fraud in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Georgia despite the fact that state authorities have already certified the election results in those states, Trump appeared to become combative when asked if he would concede if the Electoral College votes for Biden on Dec. 14. Although he eventually did say he would exit the White House if the vote were not in his favor, that answer came after he first repeatedly cast doubt on the Electoral College and election in general.
“It’s going to be a very hard thing to concede. Because we know there was massive fraud,” he said when first asked if he would concede.
“Time isn’t on our side … this was a massive fraud, this should never take place in this country, we’re like a third-world country,” he said, suggesting that faulty vote-counting machines gave Biden millions of extra votes.
Asked a second time if he would concede if the Electoral College votes for Biden, Trump responded, “Well if they do they made a mistake,” before saying it’s a “possibility” and scolding a reporter who pressed him on the issue: “Don’t talk to me that way, you’re just a lightweight.”
Watch: Trump to reporter: You're a lightweight, I'm the President
Asked by another reporter if he would “leave this building” if the Electoral College elects Biden, he said, “Certainly, I will.”
While Trump and his legal team have repeatedly looked to throw out votes in states that Joe Biden carried, none of their challenges have proved successful.
Key states such as Michigan, Pennsylvania and Georgia—all of which Trump carried in 2016, before flipping blue this year—certified their results this week, ensuring they will send a Democratic slate of voters to the Electoral College. Wisconsin and Arizona, two more states that flipped to Biden, are set to certify their results next week.
“Massive fraud has been found. We’re like a third world country,” Trump said, before launching back into allegations of voter fraud that have been repeatedly rebuffed in court and by state election officials of both parties.
“I did so well ... that they didn’t know what to do,” he said at one point of election results in Georgia, claiming that ballots for him were “thrown away.”
“I don’t know what is going to happen. I know one thing, Joe Biden did not get 80 million votes. And I got 74 million but there were many ballots thrown away, so I got much more than that. But I got 74 million, 74 million is 11 million more than I got last time. … And it’s millions more than Hillary Clinton got.”
Underneath all of the bravado, Trump at one point slipped up and blasted “the Biden administration,” apparently inadvertently recognizing Biden’s win.
While Trump has refused to concede and maintained that somehow, he would win states he had already lost, his administration has relented behind the scenes.
Earlier this week, Emily Murphy, the head of the General Services Administrations—a Trump appointee—signed off on a letter officially allowing the presidential transition to begin. Murphy had previously refused to do so, a partisan move from a historically non-partisan agency.
Even Trump appeared to have a moment of clarity Thursday regarding a potential COVID-19 cure and his future (or lack thereof) in the White House.
“Don’t let Joe Biden take credit for the vaccine,” he said.