Even as Joe Biden, the new president-elect, plots a presidential transition, US President Donald Trump is still refusing to concede the election, while some top Republicans have rallied behind him.
“Since when does the Lamestream Media call who our next president will be?” Trump tweeted on Sunday, the day after Biden was declared the winner by all the major media networks and the authoritative Associated Press news agency.
Kevin McCarthy, the most senior Republican in the House of Representatives, and Senator Lindsey Graham, a key Trump ally, both said Sunday that Trump should not concede as his legal challenges and possible recounts in some states proceed.
Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s lawyer, has presented no material evidence of fraud tough he said Sunday that the Trump campaign will continue to file lawsuits, with much of the focus on Pennsylvania, where Biden’s lead has widened to over 40,000 votes as ballots are still being counted.
Despite a flurry of court filings, Trump has not won any major case so far and there is no indication of wide-spread voter fraud, which Trump claims is behind his election loss.
The Trump campaign has, however, requested a recount in Wisconsin, which is within their legal right if Biden’s margin of victory is one per cent or less. A recount is also likely in Georgia, where Biden leads by around 10,000 votes, and another recount is possible in Pennsylvania.
Still Biden’s vote margins appear too large for any recount effort to shift results towards Trump.
Biden was declared the winner on Saturday after it was clear he won Pennsylvania and Nevada, pushing him well past the 270 electoral votes needed to seize the White House.
While Trump has refused to concede, former Republican President George Bush on Sunday congratulated Biden on his victory. Every living president has now sided against Trump’s claims, in what some view as a key sign of Biden’s legitimacy.
“The American people can have confidence that this election was fundamentally fair, its integrity will be upheld, and its outcome is clear,” Bush said.
Meanwhile, much of the world – including Germany, France, India, and has Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, a staunch Trump ally – has recognized Biden as the president-elect.
On Sunday Biden spent his first day as president-elect by going to church in Delaware and visiting the cemetery where his first wife Neilia Hunter and daughter Naomi, who both died in a car crash, are buried. Biden’s son Beau, who died from cancer, is also buried there.
Trump was meanwhile spending a second straight day at his golf course in Virginia. The president sent a flurry of tweets spreading his unfounded claims of voter fraud and accusing the media of unduly deciding the next president.
Biden will have challenges from day one, not least the coronavirus pandemic and a damaged economy. He will also have to deal with calls for criminal justice reform and promises to build a greener economy and ensure health care for Americans.
Biden has already started a transition team, which is moving ahead with preparing to take over the White House in January, whether or not the Trump administration cooperates.
His first concrete step will be forming a task force on the coronavirus with medical and scientific experts, which will be announced Monday.
Biden has set up a transition website, that outlines his “day one” priorities of addressing the pandemic and racial equity, along with economic recovery and climate change.
Trump does not have to concede for the Biden transition to move ahead, but it could make life harder for the incoming president, with national unity likely to suffer.
While the election will only be formally certified in the weeks ahead, traditionally, transition begins once media outlets call the election and the loser concedes. There is a federal law outlining the transition process.
Senator Mitt Romney, a Republican who has long feuded with Trump, said he believes that there is no path for Trump to overturn the election.
“You are not going to change the nature of President Trump in these last days, apparently, of his presidency,” Romney said on CNN. “I would prefer to see the world watching a more graceful departure. But, but that’s just not the nature of the man.”