Sorry, nothing in cart.
How much longer President Donald Trump continues waging battle over an election he lost remained in question Thursday as more of his advisers voiced doubt his gambit to contest the results would succeed. One person who spoke to him called him “dejected” over the ordeal.
Trump himself was waffling by the hour and day between a pugilistic desire to keep fighting and a more resigned attitude that his efforts will ultimately fail, people who spoke to him said.
None said they believed a full-blown concession was imminent, or likely to ever materialize. Some people close to the situation pointed to November 20 — the certification deadline in Georgia, where a hand recount has been ordered — as a potential end-date. Others said the unpredictable President could chose to pull the plug sooner.
But surveyed by CNN, nearly everyone close to Trump said they believed it was only a matter of time before he finds some way to acknowledge he will not be president come January 20 — and said he was likely to pin blame on his baseless claims of a rigged election.
A Trump adviser said the President has discussed in recent days whether it was possible for some electors to go rogue and select him as president rather than follow the results in their individual states. It’s unclear how serious Trump was about the idea.
This adviser believes Trump is moving through the emotions of accepting that he won’t be reelected while remaining convinced he was cheated by Democrats in critical states like Pennsylvania.
For Trump, the days since the election have been a dark stretch. While aides say he has thrown relatively few angry fits — most people in the building were fully expecting them — he has seemed downcast.
For days, he lamented the decision by Fox News to call Arizona for Biden, even as the move made less-and-less of a difference in the ultimate scheme of things. He has consulted with a wide array of outside advisers on how to proceed, offering little sign he is planning a graceful exit even as he has acknowledged the race is likely over.
His adult sons Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump are encouraging him to continue waging battle, arguing his supporters want to see him keeping up the pressure and that he has little to lose. But others, including their sister Ivanka, have sent a more calibrated message, asking whether it was worth damaging his legacy and potentially his businesses to continue his refusal to concede.
None, however, have vigorously argued to Trump that he should concede.
The President went for three days without leaving the building before making the trip to his golf course in Virginia on Saturday, a tactfully arranged outing that brought him very briefly away from his television at the moment networks called the race for Biden. Instead of watching it play out live, Trump received a phone call from staff alerting him to the news, though he had been expecting it and the official word did not prompt an outsized reaction. Trump continued with his round of golf anyway.
In the days since, Trump has spent ample time in front of the TV watching coverage of Biden’s transition, including his public remarks describing Trump’s reluctance to concede an “embarrassment.” He was thrilled when he saw Secretary of State Mike Pompeo mention a “smooth transition to a second Trump administration” during a news conference on Tuesday, one person who spoke to him said.
But he has been dismayed to see foreign leaders, including those he considered friends such as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, move swiftly toward congratulating Biden.
He has spent much of his days on the phone, describing his strong view the election had been stolen from him and his disbelief at losing to Biden. But throughout his conversations this week, Trump has appeared cognizant that his legal efforts aren’t likely to reverse the results of the contest and that he will depart the White House in January.
Trump this week has lingered in the Oval Office for longer than he normally does. While the President typically finishes official business and heads to the residence for dinner around 6:30 p.m. ET, he has stayed in the West Wing past 7 p.m. every night this week.