Trump Says, He Will Leave White House If….

Donald Trump has said he will leave the White House if Joe Biden is formally confirmed as the next US president.  Answering reporters’ questions for the first time since losing the 3 November vote, Trump insisted, however, that “this race is far from over”. He has refused to concede, citing unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud. Individual states are currently certifying their results, after Joe Biden was projected as the winner with an unassailable lead.

The Democrat leads Trump 306 votes to 232 under the electoral college system that is used to pick US presidents.  The tally is far more than the 270 needed to win, and Mr Biden also leads the popular vote by more than six million. Electors will meet to formalize the result on 14 December, with Mr Biden due to be sworn in as president on 20 January.

The president and his supporters have lodged a number of legal challenges over the election, but most have been dismissed. Earlier this week, Mr Trump finally agreed to allow the formal transition to President-elect Biden’s team to begin, following several weeks of uncertainty. The decision means Mr Biden is able to receive top security briefings and access key government officials and millions of dollars in funds as he prepares to take over.

Why is Trump refusing to admit defeat?

Following a video call with military personnel on the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday, Mr Trump faced questions from reporters at the White House. He was asked whether he would agree to leave the White House if he lost the electoral college vote. “Certainly I will, certainly I will and you know that,” he said.

However, the president went on to say that “if they do [elect Joe Biden], they made a mistake”, and suggested he may never accept defeat. “It’s going to be a very hard thing to concede because we know there was massive fraud,” he said, an allegation he has stood by without offering proof.

It is not a requirement for Mr Trump to concede in order for Mr Biden to be sworn in as the 46th US president. Trump did not say whether he would run for president again in 2024, or whether he would attend Mr Biden’s inauguration.

The normally routine process of transitioning from one president to another and confirming the result has been derailed by President Trump’s refusal to concede.  Under the US electoral system, voters do not directly choose the next president. Instead, they vote for 538 officials, who are allocated to American states based on their population size.

Explaining the Electoral College and which voters will decide who wins

The electors almost always vote for the candidate who won the most votes in their states, and although it is possible for some to disregard the voters’ pick, no result has ever been changed this way.

Trump also said that he was planning to hold a rally in Georgia on Saturday in support of two Republicans in key runoff elections that will decide which party controls the Senate. The elections in Georgia are due to be held on 5 January.

What’s the latest from Biden?

The president-elect celebrated a quiet Thanksgiving on Thursday, as coronavirus cases in the US continue to rise. “This year, our turkey will be smaller and the clatter of cooking a little quieter,” Mr Biden and his wife Jill said in an op-ed published by CNN. “Like millions of Americans, we are temporarily letting go of the traditions we can’t do safely.

“It is not a small sacrifice. These moments with our loved ones – time that’s lost – can’t be returned. Yet, we know it’s the price of protecting each other and one we don’t pay alone.”

“We’re at war with a virus, not with one another”: President-elect Biden calls on Americans to unite against Covid-19

Earlier this week, Mr Biden urged Americans to hold smaller celebrations, saying: “I know that we can and will beat this virus.” He has said that tackling the pandemic will be his main priority when he takes office.

Biden has already nominated a number of top officials for when he takes over and said that co-operation from the White House over the transition had been “sincere”.

Speaking in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, on Wednesday, he said that the US “won’t stand” for any attempt to derail the election. Americans “have full and fair and free elections, and then we honor the results,” he said.

President Trump said on Thursday that he would leave the White House if the Electoral College formalized Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s election as president, even as he reiterated baseless claims of fraud that he said would make it “very hard” to concede.

Taking questions from reporters for the first time since Election Day, Mr. Trump also threw himself into the battle for Senate control, saying he would soon travel to Georgia to support Republican candidates in two runoff elections scheduled there on Jan. 5. When asked whether he would leave office in January after the Electoral College cast its votes for Mr. Biden on Dec. 14 as expected, Mr. Trump replied: “Certainly I will. Certainly I will.”

A day later, Mr. Trump appeared to backtrack somewhat, falsely asserting on Twitter that Mr. Biden “can only enter the White House as President if he can prove that his ridiculous ‘80,000,000 votes’ were not fraudulently or illegally obtained.” Mr. Trump added that Mr. Biden has got “a big unsolvable problem!” But as courts shoot down Mr. Trump’s legal challenges, that statement would seem to more aptly describe his own plight.

Speaking in the Diplomatic Room of the White House after a Thanksgiving video conference with members of the American military, the president insisted that “shocking” new evidence about voting problems would surface before Inauguration Day. “It’s going to be a very hard thing to concede,” he said, “because we know that there was massive fraud.”

But even as he continued to deny the reality of his defeat, Mr. Trump also seemed to acknowledge that his days as president were numbered. “Time is not on our side,” he said, in a rare admission of weakness. He also complained that what he referred to, prematurely, as “the Biden administration” had declared its intention to scrap his “America First” foreign policy vision.

Asked whether he would attend Mr. Biden’s inauguration, as is customary for a departing president, Mr. Trump was coy. “I don’t want to say that yet,” the president said, adding, “I know the answer, but I just don’t want to say.”

Trump’s Attorney General Barr Denies Voter Fraud In Us 2020 Election

Attorney General William Barr said Tuesday the Justice Department has not uncovered evidence of widespread voter fraud that would change the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.

His comments come despite President Donald Trump’s repeated claims that the election was stolen, and his refusal to concede his loss to President-Elect Joe Biden.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Barr said U.S. attorneys and FBI agents have been working to follow up specific complaints and information they’ve received, but they’ve uncovered no evidence that would change the outcome of the election. “To date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have affected a different outcome in the election,” Barr told the AP.

The comments are especially direct coming from Barr, who has been one of the president’s most ardent allies. Before the election, he had repeatedly raised the notion that mail-in voter fraud could be especially vulnerable to fraud during the coronavirus pandemic as Americans feared going to polls and instead chose to vote by mail.

Last month, Barr issued a directive to U.S. attorneys across the country allowing them to pursue any “substantial allegations” of voting irregularities, if they existed, before the 2020 presidential election was certified, despite no evidence at that time of widespread fraud. That memorandum gave prosecutors the ability to go around longstanding Justice Department policy that normally would prohibit such overt actions before the election was certified. Soon after it was issued, the department’s top elections crime official announced he would step aside from that position because of the memo.

The Trump campaign team led by Rudy Giuliani has been alleging a widespread conspiracy by Democrats to dump millions of illegal votes into the system with no evidence. They have filed multiple lawsuits in battleground states alleging that partisan poll watchers didn’t have a clear enough view at polling sites in some locations and therefore something illegal must have happened. The claims have been repeatedly dismissed including by Republican judges who have ruled the suits lacked evidence. Local Republicans in some battleground states have followed Trump in making similar unsupported claims.

Trump has railed against the election in tweets and in interviews though his own administration has said the 2020 election was the most secure ever. Trump recently allowed his administration to begin the transition over to Biden, but has still refused to admit he lost.

The issues Trump’s campaign and its allies have pointed to are typical in every election: Problems with signatures, secrecy envelopes and postal marks on mail-in ballots, as well as the potential for a small number of ballots miscast or lost.

But they’ve also requested federal probes into the claims. Attorney Sidney Powell has spun fictional tales of election systems flipping votes, German servers storing U.S. voting information and election software created in Venezuela “at the direction of Hugo Chavez,” – the late Venezuelan president who died in 2013. Powell has since been removed from the legal team after an interview she gave where she threatened to “blow up” Georgia with a “biblical” court filing.

Barr didn’t name Powell specifically but said: “There’s been one assertion that would be systemic fraud and that would be the claim that machines were programmed essentially to skew the election results. And the DHS and DOJ have looked into that, and so far, we haven’t seen anything to substantiate that,” Barr said.

He said people were confusing the use of the federal criminal justice system with allegations that should be made in civil lawsuits. He said such a remedy for those complaints would be a top-down audit conducted by state or local officials, not the U.S. Justice Department.

“There’s a growing tendency to use the criminal justice system as sort of a default fix-all, and people don’t like something they want the Department of Justice to come in and ‘investigate,’” Barr said. He said first of all there must be a basis to believe there is a crime to investigate.

“Most claims of fraud are very particularized to a particular set of circumstances or actors or conduct. They are not systemic allegations and. And those have been run down; they are being run down,” Barr said. “Some have been broad and potentially cover a few thousand votes. They have been followed up on.”

Under Biden, The United States Should Be There For Its Neighbors In The Western Hemisphere

The Biden administration should pay particular attention to the Western Hemisphere in setting its foreign policy priorities for the next four years. Central and South America, and Caribbean nations, have long been comparatively sleepy in U.S. foreign policy circles. And while the Trump administration, at times, directed its focus to the region — to Venezuela and Cuba, in particular — there remains significant potential to advance important U.S. strategic interests with but a few relatively low-cost, discreet, tailored actions, that would seemingly align with President-Elect Biden’s foreign policy world view.

Here, I do not purport to present a comprehensive policy for the hemisphere, which must address things like transnational criminal organizations, counter-narcotics policy, and energy and environmental issues. Leaving aside that important discussion for now, there are key signals that the Biden administration can send right out of the gate on democracy issues, economic development and immigration policy, trade, and more.

A premium on democracy

As a first step, the Biden administration should try to bring countries in Central and South America, and the Caribbean, into the aspirational coalition of democracies initiative. Doing so would signal renewed American attention on the institution of democracy with our regional neighbors, many of whom are suffering from a marked decline in democratic norms and ideals. The region’s mixed response to the COVID-19 pandemic has likely exacerbated this decline.

Establishing and jealously protecting relationships between the United States and Latin American democracies would alert the more authoritarian leaders in the region — like in Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba, and increasingly Brazil — that this administration will place a premium on its relationship with democratic partners. This should help shape the whole of future regional interactions and transactions.

Improving U.S. policies on economic development and immigration

Next, the administration should pursue new ways, beyond the Alliance for Prosperity and América Crece, for the United States to help enhance economic development in the region.

Improving economic conditions will help check the seemingly constant challenge posed by irregular out-migration, especially as the effects of global climate change continue to exacerbate the risk of such migration. Moreover, economic development could serve as an important counter-balance to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and its growing aspirations throughout the region.

While admittedly a bit axiomatic, improving economic conditions — especially in Central and South America, though also in the Caribbean — would address a significant “push” factor for migrants fleeing their respective countries, usually for the United States. This is particularly true of the so-called “Northern Triangle countries” of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. Irregular migration from these countries — and others in the region, including increasingly Mexico — to the United States appears to indeed be a persistent issue, despite a near singular focus on it from the outgoing Trump administration.

A new Biden administration might see similar numbers of irregular migrants arriving at the U.S. land border as the Trump administration saw in its initial months (and really, throughout its tenure). As a result, it could very well find itself with an all-consuming foreign policy challenge that prevents it from addressing other important issues.

In such a situation, a Biden team would likely face strong pressure from its political left flank to immediately and aggressively unwind — or at a minimum, not apply — Trump-era immigration policies. These policies, not counting the public health measures at the border in response to COVID-19, include of course the wall construction, the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), the third-country asylum rule, and the network of Asylum Cooperative Agreements, all of which the outgoing Trump administration used to great effect to deny entry, execute removals, and facilitate the transportation of arriving migrants to other countries. This issue is complicated by U.S. public opinion: A large portion of Americans apparently continue to support at least the ends achieved by such policies, especially during the pandemic, thus creating the condition where rapidly fielding a feasible solution to a fresh surge of migrants at the border may well prove both operationally and politically untenable.

So, as they say, the best defense is a good offense, which makes it critical for a new Biden administration to take the initiative to improve the economic conditions of our regional neighbors. It should do so rapidly, especially as a Biden presidency in and of itself likely creates its own not insignificant immigration “pull” factor. While this initiative may not stop all of the inevitable flow to the U.S. southwest border, clearly articulating this goal may help mitigate the numbers involved.

(By Michael Sinclair at Brookings)