A week after losing the US election, President Donald Trump remained shut up in the White House on Tuesday, pushing an alternate reality that he is about to win, while Democrat Joe Biden ignored him and acted like a leader in waiting by taking a string of calls from foreign capitals.
Biden is increasingly moving toward the moment in 71 days when he will take the oath of office.
In his latest exchanges with international leaders, he talked Tuesday with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Ireland’s prime minister, Micheal Martin, and was due to speak with French President Emmanuel Macron later.
But the formal process of Biden’s transition is being blocked by Trump while he attempts to overturn the election results in court on the basis of so far flimsy fraud allegations.
“WE WILL WIN!” the Republican president tweeted early Tuesday. “WATCH FOR MASSIVE BALLOT COUNTING ABUSE.”
Trump’s attempt to hold on to power has become all-consuming for the man who often makes a point of publicly mocking rivals as “losers.”
Emphasizing the atmosphere of intransigence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a testy news conference that he was preparing for “a smooth transition to a second Trump administration.”
Since Election Day on November 3, Trump has made few public appearances and seems to have all but shelved normal presidential duties.
His only known activities outside the White House have been to play golf twice over the weekend after the results came in.
Normally routine secret presidential intelligence briefings have been off the daily schedule. He has made no mention of the dramatic rebound in the Covid-19 pandemic across the country.
And his once near-daily press conferences, interviews with Fox News or impromptu question-and-answer sessions with White House journalists have dried up.
In place of that, Trump has spent much of his time tweeting, mostly about what he claims is the stolen election.
Trump’s only significant presidential action has been the abrupt firing of defense secretary Mark Esper on Monday, which he announced on Twitter.
Exactly four years ago Tuesday, Trump had just scored his surprise victory against Hillary Clinton and toured the White House for the first time as a guest of Barack Obama.
That courtesy to a president-elect is an old tradition, highlighting the nation near-sacred respect for the peaceful transfer of power.
Trump has not only failed to invite Biden for a chat in the Oval Office, but he is also blocking the Democrat from access to facilities, funding, and expertise that usually come in a ready-made package to help the incoming leader.
The release of this transition aid is controlled by the General Services Administration head Emily Murphy, who was appointed by Trump.
Biden, who won with a record number of votes but acknowledges that nearly half the electorate nevertheless backed Trump, is apparently choosing to ignore the chaos.
Rarely even mentioning Trump, Biden has set up a coronavirus task force and on Tuesday was delivering his latest policy speech — this time on the fate of the Obamacare health care plan which Trump wants the Supreme Court to dismantle.
The latest major foreign leader to reach out with congratulations, ignoring Trump’s claim that he won last Tuesday, was Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who referred to Biden’s “election success.”
Republicans back Trump
Washington is buzzing with speculation over who, if anyone, in Trump’s inner circle will finally persuade him to go.
Former President George W. Bush, the only living Republican ex-president, congratulated Biden on his victory, but he is an outlier in a party dominated by the still hugely popular Trump.
On Monday, the Republican leader in Congress, Senator Mitch McConnell, said Trump was “100 percent within his rights” to challenge the election in court.
None of the lawsuits appears to have the potential to change the result of votes and even a planned recount of Biden’s paper-thin victory in Georgia, or anywhere else, would be unlikely to change the fundamental math.
But Trump added a potential new weapon to his crusade against the results on Monday when his attorney general, Bill Barr, agreed to authorize probes into “specific allegations” of fraud.
Barr added a caveat that “specious, speculative, fanciful or far-fetched claims should not be a basis for initiating federal inquiries.”
However, Barr’s unusual intervention in the dispute prompted worries that Trump will go even further in his efforts. The Justice Department’s top election crimes prosecutor, Richard Pilger, resigned in protest.
Biden’s inauguration is on January 20.