President Donald Trump has come the closest yet to acknowledging that President-elect Joe Biden could succeed him, saying he will never put the United States into a coronavirus lockdown but "time will tell" if another administration takes office in January and does so.
In his first public remarks since Biden last Saturday was widely projected the winner, Trump said he expected a coronavirus vaccine to be available for the entire population as soon as April.
In broadcast remarks in the White House Rose Garden on Friday, Trump also appeared to acknowledge for the first time the possibility of an upcoming Biden administration, though he stopped short of conceding the race and did not mention his Democratic rival by name.
"Ideally, we won't go to a lockdown. I will not go, this administration will not be going to a lockdown," he said. "Hopefully the, the - uh - whatever happens in the future - who knows which administration will be. I guess time will tell."
Since the November 3 election, Trump has persisted with unfounded accusations of widespread voting fraud. But while he has continued to make such claims on Twitter, he did not repeat them in his public remarks on Friday.
The last time Trump spoke - in the White House briefing room two days after the election - he said without evidence that if "legal" votes were counted he would "easily win" the election.
Biden solidified his victory over Trump on Friday after the state of Georgia went his way, leaving Trump little hope of reversing the outcome through legal challenges and recounts.
Trump's White House remarks came after Fox News correspondent and Trump confidant Gerald Rivera said the president was a "realist" who would "do the right thing" after all legitimate votes were counted.
In a post on Twitter and in an interview with the network, Rivera said Trump had called him earlier on Friday and told him that after the results were certified, the president would "follow the edict of the constitution of the United States and surrender the office in the statutory and the constitutional time frame".