US president Donald Trump is desperately holding on to the White House in an act of defiance his expected successor Joe Biden has labelled an “embarrassment” for the country.
Taking questions from the media for the first time since he was declared president-elect, Biden said Trump’s behaviour would “not help his legacy”.
Nothing, Biden said, will stop the transfer of power as his team readies to take control.
“We're going to be going, moving along, in a consistent manner, putting together our administration ... and reviewing who we're going to pick for Cabinet positions, and nothing's going to stop that,” he said Tuesday (local time).
“We’re going to do exactly what we would have been doing if he had conceded.”
Biden secured the more than 270 votes in the electoral college system required to take the presidency by winning Pennsylvania on the weekend after four tense days of counting, which was delayed by a surge in mail-in ballots due to the coronavirus pandemic.
But Trump continues to claim there was widespread voter fraud, despite his legal team being able to identify any substantial evidence.
The Trump team and the Republicans have a handful of lawsuits still in front of the courts in various states but legal experts have almost universally dismissed the likelihood they will have much bearing on the election result, let alone be enough to flip it in Trump’s favour.
Pennsylvania Party Leadership votes are this week. I hope they pick very tough and smart fighters. We will WIN!!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 10, 2020
The president continues to tweet out assurances of eventual victory while simultaneously purging government departments of non-loyalists, furthering fears of what he will do for the remaining weeks of his presidency.
Ahead of the election, a group of legal scholars and political operatives warned about the potential for Trump to use his power in a last-ditch effort to cling to office.
“[The president could use his] ability to federalise the national guard or invoke the Insurrection Act to deploy active duty military domestically; his ability to launch investigations into opponents; and his ability to use Department of Justice and/or the intelligence agencies to cast doubt on election results or discredit his opponents,” they warned.
Trump sacked Defense Secretary Mark Esper this week, who opposed invoking the Insurrection Act while the latter part of the above scenario is arguably already playing out with the now highly politicised US Justice Department backing in the president’s hunt for election malfeasance.
Country ‘heading to constitutional crisis’
The electors of the electoral college system are due to meet in mid December to officially declare the next president. There is little Trump can do to prevent his fate when that happens on December 14, but as senior Republicans continue to stand by Trump, the country is being pushed to the brink of a potential constitutional crisis.
“The constitution doesn’t really anticipate that kind of behaviour,” Dr Emma Shortis from RMIT University told Yahoo News Australia on the eve of the election, referring to a reported plan for the president to claim victory in the face of reality.
The so-called guardrails in place for the peaceful transition of power expect an incumbent to concede when defeated at the ballot box.
National correspondent for Yahoo News in the US, Alexander Nazaryan, was among many to voice concern of where the country is heading, tweeting this morning: “I’m not sure if people realise how close to a constitutional crisis we are.”
I'm not sure if people realize how close to a constitutional crisis we are.
— Alexander Nazaryan (@alexnazaryan) November 10, 2020
Majority of Americans recognise president-elect Biden
Nearly 80 per cent of Americans, including more than half of all Republicans, recognise president-elect Joe Biden as the winner of the November 3 election, according to a national poll.
The Reuters/Ipsos national opinion survey, which ran from Saturday afternoon to Tuesday in the US, found 79 per cent of adults believe Biden won the White House.
Another 13 per cent said the election has not yet been decided, three per cent said Trump won and five per cent said they do not know.
The results were somewhat split along party lines: about six in 10 Republicans and almost every Democrat said Biden won.
The survey also showed 70 per cent of Americans – 83 per cent of Democrats and 59 per cent of Republicans – trust local election officials to "do their job honestly".
It found 72 per cent think the loser of the election must concede defeat and 60 per cent think there will be a peaceful transition of power in January.
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