U.S. President Donald Trump for the first time Sunday appeared to acknowledge that Democrat Joe Biden “won” the presidential election nearly two weeks ago but then said he was not conceding.
In a string of Twitter comments, Trump continued to make baseless claims that he lost because the vote was rigged against him.
The Republican president has declined to formally concede the election to the former vice president even as all major U.S. news media organizations have said for a week that Biden amassed more than the necessary 270-majority in the 538-member Electoral College to win the presidency and be inaugurated on January 20.
In one of a string of Twitter comments, Trump said of Biden, “He won because the Election was Rigged.”
Trump went on to make unfounded accusations about the election, saying, “NO VOTE WATCHERS OR OBSERVERS allowed, vote tabulated by a Radical Left privately owned company, Dominion, with a bad reputation & bum equipment that couldn’t even qualify for Texas (which I won by a lot!), the Fake & Silent Media, & more!”
Twitter flagged Trump’s claims, saying, “This claim about election fraud is disputed.”
About an hour later, Trump clarified his view of the election outcome, saying, “He only won in the eyes of the FAKE NEWS MEDIA. I concede NOTHING! We have a long way to go. This was a RIGGED ELECTION!"
Biden’s incoming White House chief of staff, Ron Klain, told NBC’s "Meet the Press," "Donald Trump's Twitter feed doesn't make Joe Biden president or not president. The American people did that."
Election officials throughout the country have told VOA and other news organizations they have not uncovered any evidence of widespread fraud, only some small Election Day and vote-counting problems that would not reverse Biden’s victory and instead give Trump a second four-year term in the White House.
While several legal disputes about the election remain to be heard in U.S. courts in several political battleground states, Trump already has lost numerous cases that alleged voting and vote-counting irregularities.
Some of the disputes involved such small numbers of disputed ballots that even if Trump had prevailed, it would not have overturned Biden’s victories in individual states.
Trump’s refusal to acknowledge Biden’s victory in the highly contentious election is unprecedented in modern U.S. politics, although there is no law saying he must concede. Losing U.S. presidential candidates for decades have offered their congratulations to the winners.
While declining to formally concede, Trump has also blocked his administration’s officials and government agencies from cooperating with the president-elect's team on its transition to power or provide Biden with the President’s Daily Brief, a compendium of the U.S. intelligence community’s latest assessment of potential security threats from around the world.
Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the last standing challenger to Biden for the Democratic presidential nomination earlier this year, criticized Trump's post-election conduct.
"Trump will have the distinction of doing more than any person in the history of this country in undermining American democracy,” Sanders told CNN. “The idea that he continues to tell his supporters that the only reason he may have lost this election was because of fraud is an absolutely disgraceful, un-American thing to do."
John Bolton, Trump's former national security adviser turned critic, called on Republicans to acknowledge Biden's victory. Some Republican colleagues of the president have described Biden as the president-elect while more have stayed silent on the election outcome or voiced support for Trump’s fraud claims and his lawsuits seeking to overturn Biden’s win.
"I think it's very important for leaders of the Republican Party to explain to our voters, who are not as stupid as the Democrats think, that in fact Trump has lost the election and his claims of election fraud are baseless," Bolton said on ABC's "This Week" program.
Biden has been meeting with his advisers on forming a new government and considering possible nominees to his Cabinet. He and Kamala Harris, the vice president-elect, are holding meetings and deliver remarks on the economy Monday.
Last week, Biden named Klain to be his White House chief of staff, considered to be a key gatekeeper for advice and face-to-face meetings with U.S. presidents.