United States President Donald Trump has hinted that he may accept defeat by Joe Biden as media declared the Democrat the winner in Georgia while the counting was still going on, solidifying his lead in the electoral college.
Trump, who has so far refused to concede the election to Biden and has vowed to continue to challenge some of the results in courts, said on Friday while discussing the possibility of a coronavirus-induced lockdown, “Whatever happens in the future, who knows, which administration will be, I guess time will tell.”
This was likely his first time thinking aloud in public of another administration taking over on January 20.
There have been speculations about how he would finally deal with a defeat, with hyperbolic scenarios painted by some of his hard-core critics of him not leaving the White House leading to a constitutional crisis.
An unidentified senior aide to Trump was quoted by NBC as saying that he was likely to accept the election verdict while not admitting that he lost.
Amid signs of a second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic sweeping the country, Trump said he was not going to impose a nation-wide lockdown.
He said, “Ideally we won’t go to a lockdown. I will not go, this administration will not be going to a lockdown hopefully. Whatever happens in the future, who knows, which administration will be, I guess time will tell, but I can tell you this administration will not go to a lockdown.”
He was speaking at the White House about his Operation Warpspeed to get vaccines against Covid-19 as quickly as possible. He claimed success in the operation that involved private pharmaceutical companies and the military and said the vaccine distribution can begin next month.
Although the counting of votes is still on and the results have not been officially declared, the media has crowned Biden the winner based on their projections and on that basis, Biden and the Democrats have demanded that he be accorded the official status of the president-elect.
While conceding North Carolina to Trump and Georgia to Biden on Friday, several media outlets gave 306 electoral college votes to Biden and 232 to Trump. To win 270 electoral college votes are needed.
Only 14,000 votes or 0.3 per cent put Biden ahead in the official count in Georgia and officials have said that a manual recount of the postal ballots was required before a final declaration can be made.
If Biden is officially declared the winner in Georgia, he will be the first Democrat since Bill Clinton in 1992 to take the state that has been Republican bastion.
A spokesperson for the Biden transition, Jen Psaki, complained during a briefing that they did not have access “to the ongoing work on Covid, so that we can prepare to govern” or to national intelligence briefing and other important information.
Legally a president-elect has to be given official facilities for transitioning into the office and access to briefings.
But Emily Murphy, the head of the General Services Administration that should make the arrangements, is waiting for an official confirmation of the election result.
States have until December 14 to officially declare the results.
Trump has been claiming that the elections have been rigged and has filed cases in several places.
In Michigan and in Pennsylvania judges dismissed on Friday cases brought the Trump campaign.
Trump retweeted claims in friendly media about “millions of votes” being switched or lost.
But election officials around the country have denied there was fraud or irregularity on that scale.
The claim of millions is too far-fetched, but some scattered problems have been reported. In Georgia and Michigan, there were problems with reporting of the votes, but officials said they were due to human errors. In Pennsylvania, some postal votes for Trump were found discarded.
A writer in the Las Vegas Review reported testing the system for checking signatures for postal ballots to ascertain if they were genuine by signing and sending in ballots of nine people who participated in the test and found that eight of them were accepted.