Trump emerges from White House to take credit for vaccine and leaves open door for second term

The president spoke on what became a particularly bad day for his already longshot re-election legal bid

John T. Bennett
Washington Bureau Chief
Friday 13 November 2020 22:34
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'Time will tell': Trump appears to leave door open for second term

Donald Trump uttered his first public words since Joe Biden was declared the president-elect, speaking vaguely about his apparent loss and again refusing to concede defeat.

As he discussed any future Covid-related lockdowns, he said “this administration” would not order one under any circumstances. He appeared to begin talking about a likely Biden presidency, but stopped and said "hopefully, whatever happens in the future.”

“Who knows which administration, time will tell,” the president said, leaving open a door through which he might have a second term starting on 20 January.

But as he spoke, overturning the results in enough swing states to reverse their electoral college distributions in his favor looked more and more like a longshot.

The Covid-19 vaccine update remarks were the first words Mr Trump has uttered in public since Mr Biden was declared the president-elect on Saturday.

The president spoke on what became a particularly bad day for his already longshot reelection legal bid.

He lost lawsuits in Michigan and Pennsylvania.

His campaign organisation withdrew its legal challenge in Arizona, reportedly admitting the vote margin (around 11,000 in favour of Mr Biden) was too large to overcome.

The president even called the result in the Grand Canyon State a “very close loss.” (That he blamed on a specific vote-counting software.)

Georgia was called by several media outlets for Mr Biden, handing the president-elect 16 more electoral votes. It offset some rare good news for the president: he won North Carolina’s 15. (The Associated Press has not yet called Georgia for either candidate.)

But the net of those two southern battlegrounds, should the AP follow the other outlets, would be +1 for Mr Biden.

And Mr Trump appeared to have lost the electoral vote, 306-232 (assuming the AP also soon calls Georgia for his rival).

The president-elect’s amount is the same Mr Trump received in 2016. He called it a “landslide” amount.

Further cracks emerged in Mr Trump’s election challenge.

Geraldo Rivera claimed to have talked to the president, tweeting his “friend” is a “realist” who contended on Friday he will do the “right thing.”

The president seemed to be inching closer to whatever that perceived correct action is, telling the longtime television personality and pal he wants to watch vote-result certification close to see "what states do.”

Despite his own Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) on Thursday calling this the “most secure in American history,” the president tweeted this several hours before he stepped into the recently remodelled Rose Garden: “This Election was Rigged … all the way up & down!”

In a sign the president will continue allowing personal grievances to drive policy decisions that would affect millions of Americans, he made a stunning announcement.

Mr Trump targeted New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who, like other top Democrats, has raised concerns that the Trump administration is rushing vaccine development.

He accused the governor of his home state of questioning an inoculation produced under his administration due to purely “political reasons,”  declaring the federal government would not send the drug until Mr Cuomo “authorises” them to do so.

“He doesn’t trust where the vaccine is coming from,” Mr Trump said. “These are coming from the greatest companies anywhere in the world, greatest labs in the world, but he doesn’t trust the fact that it’s this White House, this administration, so we won’t be delivering it to New York."

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and other officials did not respond to an inquiry about whether the president considered the state’s 19.4m residents when making his decision.

–Phil Thomas and Danielle Zoellner contributed to this report.

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