WASHINGTON - Less than seven weeks before his four-year term ends, questions are swirling around U.S. President Donald Trump.
Will he concede defeat to President-elect Joe Biden?
So far, Trump has not yet offered a concession, nor is one required. A concession is simply a polite tradition of U.S. presidential elections in which the losing candidate admits the obvious and congratulates the winner.
Trump, however, shows no sign of acknowledging unequivocally that he lost the election, even as officials in state after contested state declare that Biden won the key political battlegrounds that will lead to his inauguration on January 20 as the country’s 46th president.
Instead, Trump has repeatedly claimed the election was fraudulent and that he was cheated out of a second term. On Wednesday, he released a 46-minute video filled with debunked falsehoods claiming vote and vote-counting irregularities and trying to prove he actually won.
“It was a massive dump of votes, mostly Biden, almost all Biden. And to this day, everyone's trying to figure out where did it come from?” Trump claimed. “But I went from leading by a lot [in the hours after the polls closed] to losing by a little” in the days that followed.
Trump’s dwindling lead was easily explained by the fact that the massive early mail-in votes, which he criticized, mostly skewed in Biden’s favor and took several days to count — sometimes because state officials banned the counting of early votes until the day of the election or after polls closed.
Trump and his campaign have made no legal headway in proving their case in the political battleground states that turned in Biden’s favor. In the latest setback, the Supreme Court in Wisconsin refused Thursday to directly hear his lawsuit attempting to overturn his 20,000-vote loss, saying the case must first be considered in lower courts.
U.S. presidential elections are decided in the Electoral College, with the most populous states having the most votes. Biden holds an unofficial 306-232 advantage, the exact total won by Trump in 2016, which he declared was a “landslide” victory over his Democratic challenger, Hillary Clinton. Biden also leads in the popular vote by nearly 7 million votes.
The Electoral College vote is set for December 14, with Biden expected to be declared the winner. Congress will certify the Electoral College outcome in early January, two weeks ahead of Biden’s swearing-in on a platform now under construction on the western front of the U.S. Capitol.
A question also remains about the inauguration: Will Trump attend?
For more than a century, each outgoing president has adhered to custom and attended his successor’s swearing-in ceremony, even when the incumbent lost to the newly elected U.S. leader.
Trump said he has made up his mind but has not announced where he plans to be on Inauguration Day. But he is contemplating another run for the White House in 2024.
Only one U.S. president — Grover Cleveland in 1892 — successfully recaptured another term in the White House after losing a bid for reelection four years earlier.
Trump is keeping his options open and hinting at his plans.
He told Republicans at a White House holiday party this week, “It’s been an amazing four years. We’re trying to do another four years. Otherwise, I’ll see you in four years.”