As Donald Trump prepares for life outside the White House, the 45th president of the United States is keen to shape his legacy – no matter how many wild claims are required.
Calling into Fox News, the president touted forthcoming coronavirus vaccines, tried to paint a rosy picture of the country’s pandemic response, bemoaned the country’s legal system for slapping down his many election challenges and continued to make discredited claims of widespread voter fraud and election rigging.
In a characteristically vague tirade, Trump said he was called “by the biggest political people” on election night to congratulate him on winning “but then they did dumps, they call them dumps, big massive dumps in Michigan, in Pennsylvania ... all over,” he said.
On election night, Trump held a lead in a handful of states but as votes, including postal ballots were counted, Democrat Joe Biden pulled ahead and ultimately won. Given the nature of vote counting and Trump’s constant railing against mail voting, it was a scenario that was widely predicted ahead of the election and often referred to as the ‘red mirage’ or ‘the blue shift’.
Trump said he will not cease his unsuccessful attempts at challenging the election result in battleground states.
Fox News host Maria Bartiromo opened the interview by parroting Trump’s baseless claims of a rigged election saying “the facts are on your side”.
Trump launched into a lengthy monologue as he went about sowing confusion and disinformation: “First of all, the world is watching and no one can believe what they’re saying,” he said.
The president claimed he had been called by world leaders telling him “that was the most messed up election I’ve ever seen.”
The president went on to reiterate a raft of scatterbrain claims about “affidavits from people” and dodgy voting machines with “glitches” which he claimed moved votes from “my account to Biden’s account”.
The glitches conspiracy stems from a fake report spread online attributed to polling firm Edison Research. The company quickly denied it had produced any such report.
Among the other already debunked claims pushed by the president were that dead people were applying for and casting ballots and that he wasn’t allowed to have poll watchers in Pennsylvania – both untrue.
The president railed against big tech, the media and at one point suggested the Department of Justice and the FBI were in on the elaborate fraud conspiracy against him.
Later in the interview Trump said the US is doing better than Europe and “better than the rest of the world” when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic. His remarks came as the US has reached a record in hospitalisations and the country’s top infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci warned of a “surge upon a surge” of infections across the country.
‘This is propaganda’: Fierce response to interview
Trump's dismissal of US authorities, which said the election was "the most secure in history", has forced the US media to become increasingly sharp in its tone as the interview was met with scathing criticism from mainstream outlets outside of Fox News.
“Fox News' Maria Bartiromo gave Trump his first TV interview since the election. It was filled with lies,” ran the headline from CNN.
USA Today was equally admonishing in coverage of the rambling interview and highlighted comments referring to Bartiromo as a propagandist.
“In the 46-minute phone interview, Trump continued to protest the election but provided no proof – and would not say when he might drop election lawsuits and challenges that have met nothing but defeat,” it reported.
“Maria went all in on at least three different conspiracies,” wrote journalist Amanda Carpenter and author of ‘Gaslighting America: Why we love it when Trump lies to us’.
“She’s way off the deep end. This isn’t a Trump problem, it’s a Fox problem,” she said.
“This is propaganda.”
Journalist and New York Magazine contributor Yashar Ali said the interview was filled with so many lies and misinformation, “probably more than any interview during his presidency”.
Others, meanwhile, were at pains to point out that Trump’s radical claims bear almost no resemblance to what his lawyers argue in court.
. @mariabartiromo’s interview with the president is filled with so many lies and so much misinformation. Probably more than any interview during his presidency.
And Maria has let him go unchecked on America’s number one cable network.
It’s practically a monologue.
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) November 29, 2020
Trump said today he has evidence of enough fraud to overturn his loss, but the judges won't hear the evidence. This is false. His lawyers including Guiliani have not alleged fraud in court. Why? Because there are far graver consequences to lying in court than lying on Fox.
— Amy Gardner (@AmyEGardner) November 29, 2020
President Trump says on Fox News just now that they have evidence of voter fraud but judges won’t allow submission in court. Such nonsense — court filings show Trump campaign isn’t even trying to prove fraud.
— Hugo Lowell (@hugolowell) November 29, 2020
Trump is ranting on the phone on Fox News right now. He sounds defeated, drunk and pathetic. President-elect Biden will be sworn in on January 20th.
— Scott Dworkin (@funder) November 29, 2020
Biden gets more votes in Wisconsin recount
Judges, including notable conservatives, have shot down lawsuits and challenges in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona, Georgia and Nevada citing a lack of “specific allegations and then proof”.
While the president and his allies make bold claims of widespread fraud, in court his lawyers claims tend to focus on legal technicalities around changes to voting before the election and technicalities around post-election audits.
At the time of writing, Trump and Republican allies have failed in 39 court challenges.
Meanwhile Wisconsin finished a recount of its presidential results on Sunday (local time) confirming Biden’s victory.
In the two counties where Trump paid $US3 million for a recount, the results barely budged Biden’s winning margin of about 20,600 votes, actually giving him a gain of 87 votes.
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