As Biden slowly closes in on 270 Electoral College votes via multiple pathways, the Trump White House resigns itself to a one term presidency
Narrowing path leaves White House aides facing dismal reality
By Kevin Liptak and Kaitlan Collins | CNN
President Donald Trump was charging ahead Thursday with a strategy to force an election victory – or at least forestall a loss -through legal maneuvers and demands for recounts, a final-ditch effort to prevent states from tallying ballots that could decide the next president.
Despite campaign assurances that the numbers will break their way, reality appeared to be setting in for several of Trump’s aides in the White House and campaign that the President is facing an ever-narrowing path to victory. Some privately acknowledged the chances of Trump winning are now slim and were contemplating their next career steps. New vote tallies in Pennsylvania and Georgia on Thursday showed Trump’s lead shrinking, even as he made small gains on Joe Biden in Arizona.
Entrenched at the White House with no public events on his schedule, Trump has personally dispatched advisers to battlegrounds across the country hoping to wage legal fights in places where the margins remain tight.
That has included his two adult sons, who voiced frustration on Thursday that more Republicans weren’t publicly backing the President in his battle to halt vote counting.
“Where is the GOP?! Our voters will never forget…” wrote Eric Trump. His older brother, Donald Trump Jr., accused “2024 GOP hopefuls” of remaining silent in the effort.
Despite his own private skepticism about the efficacy of his legal strategy, Trump has remained intent on waging a prolonged fight, viewing it as his only option. It was an onslaught the President previewed ahead of time, vowing to unleash his team of lawyers in states where he was losing.
But it was nonetheless a scattershot effort that seemed designed more to undermine confidence in the election results and provide legal backing to Trump’s unfounded claims of fraud than to actually surface more votes.
There has been no credible evidence of widespread voter fraud in this year’s contest. But Trump’s rallying cry did prompt some of his loyal supporters to congregate at tabulation centers to demand the counting be halted.
In public, Trump’s team remains insistent his path to victory is possible and even likely.
“Donald Trump is alive and well,” campaign manager Bill Stepien told reporters on a morning conference call.
By contrast, Biden has made brief public remarks on the last two days, and on Thursday attended a briefing on the coronavirus alongside his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris.
For Trump, Wednesday was a frustrating stretch. Two key battlegrounds, Michigan and Wisconsin, were called in Biden’s favor. The race tightened dramatically in Georgia and Pennsylvania, while in Arizona the President is narrowing his margin against Biden.
While Biden spoke to cameras from near his home in Delaware, encouraging patience while still voicing optimism, Trump remained out of sight. Instead, he spent the day angrily phoning Republican governors to demand updates and question why more wasn’t being done to assist his efforts, people familiar with the calls said.
Trump’s top lieutenants, including Vice President Mike Pence, chief of staff Mark Meadows and senior adviser Jared Kushner, all huddled at his campaign headquarters in suburban Virginia on Wednesday to plot a path forward.
Others on his team, including his son Eric Trump and his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, mobilized to Pennsylvania, which appears to be ground zero in the campaign’s legal efforts. Another team, including the former US ambassador to Germany Ric Grennell, was in Nevada.
The various filings and requests amount to long-shot legal arguments, several legal analysts said, focusing on such thin claims or affecting such a small portion of votes that they won’t decide the presidential election.
“Admitting defeat is not a plausible reaction so soon after the election, so they throw a lot of Hail Mary lawsuits at the wall and hope something sticks,” longtime Republican elections lawyer and CNN contributor Ben Ginsberg said. He said the types of suits filed by Trump’s team aren’t indicative of a campaign that’s feeling optimistic.