US President Donald Trump has had a testy exchange with a White House correspondent during a press conference in which the “lightweight” reporter spoke over him after asking if he would concede the election to President-elect Joe Biden.
“Don’t ever talk to the president that way,” Trump told Reuters correspondent Jeff Mason during a question-and-answer session in the White House.
Trump spoke to reporters in the White House’s Diplomatic Reception Room after holding a teleconference with US military leaders stationed across the globe.
In his 25 minute back-and-forth with the media, Trump didn’t fully concede his loss and insisted his legal arguments would go ahead. He argued he has time until the inauguration – which is 55 days away – but admitted it’s ticking fast.
He said he will leave the White House if the Electoral College formalises President-Elect Joe Biden’s victory — even as he insisted such a decision would be a “mistake” — as he spent his Thanksgiving renewing baseless claims that “massive fraud” and crooked officials in battleground states caused his election defeat.
“Certainly I will. But you know that,” Trump said Thursday when asked whether he would vacate the building, allowing a peaceful transition of power in January. 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.
“This has a long way to go,” Trump said, even though he lost.
The fact that a sitting American president even had to address whether or not he would leave office after losing reelection underscores the extent to which Trump has smashed one convention after another over the last three weeks.
While there is no evidence of the kind of widespread fraud Trump has been alleging, he and his legal team have nonetheless been working to cast doubt on the integrity of the election and trying to overturn voters’ will 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.
He repeated grievances and angrily denounced officials in Georgia and Pennsylvania, two key swing states that helped give Biden the win.
Trump claimed, despite the results, that this may not be his last Thanksgiving at the White House. And he insisted there had been “massive fraud,” even though state officials and international observers have said no evidence of that exists and Trump’s campaign has repeatedly failed in court.
Trump’s administration has already given the green light for a formal transition to get underway. But Trump took issue with Biden moving forward.
“I think it’s not right that he’s trying to pick a Cabinet,” Trump said, even though officials from both teams are already working together to get Biden’s team up to speed.
And as he refused to concede, Trump announced that he will be traveling to Georgia to rally supporters ahead of two Senate runoff elections that will determine which party controls the Senate.
Trump said the rally for Republican Sens. David Perdue and Sen. Kelly Loeffler would likely be held Saturday. The White House later clarified he had meant December 5.
– additional reporting AP
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