US President Donald Trump, who has been refusing to accept defeat, said on Thursday he will leave the White House if the Electoral College votes for President-elect Joe Biden, insisting that such a decision would be a “mistake”.
This is the closed Trump has come to conceding the November 3 presidential election.
Trump spent his Thanksgiving renewing claims that “massive fraud” and crooked officials in battleground states was the reason behind his election defeat.
Speaking to reporters on the Thanksgiving holiday, Trump said if Biden – who is slated to swear-in on January 20 – is formally declared the winner by the Electoral College, he will depart the White House.
“It was a rigged election … at the highest level,” news agency Reuters quoted Trump as saying.
However, Trump, who took questions for the first time since election day, emphasised that “a lot of things” would happen between now and then that might alter the results.
What are electoral votes?
In the US, a candidate becomes president by securing the most “electoral” votes rather than by winning a majority of the national popular vote. Electors, allotted to the 50 states and the District of Columbia largely based on their population, are party loyalists who pledge to support the candidate who won the popular vote in their state.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden won the election with 306 Electoral College votes to Trump’s 232. The required electoral votes that a candidate had to secure were 270. The electors are scheduled to meet on December 14 to formalise the outcome. President-elect Biden also leads Trump by more than 6 million in the popular vote tally, Reuters reported.
Trump has so far refused to fully acknowledge his defeat, though earlier this week – with mounting pressure from his own Republican ranks – he agreed to let Biden’s transition process officially proceed.
Frenzied efforts by Trump and his aides to overturn results in key states, either by lawsuits or by pressuring state legislators, have failed, and he is running out of options.
“President-elect Biden won 306 electoral votes. States continue to certify those results, the Electoral College will soon meet to ratify that outcome,” Michael Gwin, a spokesman for the Biden campaign, said when asked about Trump’s comments. “Biden will be sworn in as President on Jan. 20, 2021.”
Showing that he intends to stay in the political fray until the end of his term, Trump said on Thursday he would travel on December 5 to Georgia, a once solidly Republican state he lost narrowly to Biden, to campaign for two Republican US Senate candidates.
The two runoff elections in Georgia on January 5 will determine whether the Republicans keep their majority in the Senate.
(With inputs from Reuters)