United States President Donald Trump said he will relinquish power if the Electoral College affirms Democrat Joe Biden’s win but he signals he may never formally concede defeat.
The 74-year-old Republican candidate, who lost his re-election bid, also declined to say if he would attend Biden’s inauguration next year, as is the custom for an outgoing president.
Trump fielded questions from reporters on Thursday for the first time since his election defeat, speaking at the White House after a Thanksgiving teleconference with members of the military.
When asked by reporters gathered at the White House’s diplomatic room if he would physically leave the building should the Electoral College affirms Biden’s victory, Trump replied, “certainly I will, and you know that.” But he swiftly maintained that there was “massive fraud and massive rigging” in the election, insisting that the court cases challenging the election outcome will continue.
Trump was further pressed on whether he would ever acknowledge defeat but said it would “be a very hard thing to concede,” even if the Electoral College confirms Biden’s victory. “If they do, they’ve made a mistake,” he said. “This election was a fraud.”
The Electoral College electors in each state are due to vote on December 14. Certificates recording the electoral vote results in each state must be received by the president of the Senate no later than December 23. Biden is certified as the winner, or leading, in states totaling 306 electoral votes, well above the victory threshold of 270, while Trump got 232 electoral votes.
Trump acknowledged that the whole world is watching what becomes the fate of American democracy. “The whole world is watching and the whole world is laughing at our electoral process,” he said.
He, however, declined to say if he would seek the presidency again in 2024, as has been widely rumoured. “I don’t want to talk about 2024 yet,” he replied.