In his first media question-and-answer session since election day on 3 November President Donald Trump said it would be a ‘hard thing’ to accept if the US Electoral College voted for Joe Biden.
When Donald Trump spoke to reporters after the traditional President’s Thanksgiving message to members of the US armed forces stationed abroad, he also repeated his claims that the election result “was a massive fraud”, and spent some time explaining his allegations.
The Electoral College is expected to formalise the election result within the next month.
However, despite saying he thought formalising president-elect Joe Biden’s victory would be a mistake, Trump said that while it would be “a hard thing” for him to concede to Biden, he would accept it
Trump also has tongues wagging with the question “who next?” after his full pardon of retired general Michael Flynn on 25 November. Flynn was fired by President Barack Obama in 2014 when Flynn was at the Defense Intelligence Agency.
Flynn went on to work for Trump as national security adviser for all of 24 days before he was fired for lying to Vice-President Mike Pence. He later pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.
Besides pardoning Flynn, Trump commuted the prison sentence handed down to ally Roger Stone for witness intimidation, lying to Congress and obstruction. Stone was convicted on crimes related to the Russia Hoax investigation – also known as the Muller investigation – into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
During his term Trump has used clemency – such as for “tough sheriff” Joe Arpaio – which reduces a punishment but does not clear the related criminal record.
There is a laundry list of “friends” close to Trump who are either awaiting trial or sentencing, have been sentenced or are under investigation – his lawyer Rudy Giuliani, his former lawyer Michael Cohen, former campaign manager Paul Manafort and ex-advisers Rick Gates and George Papadopoulos, to name a few – leaving many people, for many reasons, keenly waiting to hear who he’ll pardon next.
Trump is scheduled to spend 27 November at Camp David, the official presidential retreat in Maryland.
While the3 president stayed on message with regards to “fraudulent elections” and not saying a word about the pandemic, president-elect Joe Biden’s Thanksgiving message went directly to the virus: “We’re going to get through this together even if we have to be apart.”
Not for the first time, Biden referenced the empty chair in a poignant evocation of the absent loved one at the Thanksgiving table, reaching out to all who had lost someone to Covid-19. Biden, ever careful and aware of the division among his countrymen along the Red/Republican and Blue/Democrat divide, also called on Americans to pull together, saying: “We are at war with the virus, not with each other.”
The president-elect gave his Thanksgiving message on Wednesday.
Across America many families had Thanksgiving dinner together while physically apart – modern technology allowed for virtual togetherness, with video calls the order of the day.
The famous annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade – which started in 1924 as Macy’s Christmas Parade – went ahead as usual, but without crowds. Even New Yorkers had to watch online or on television, unlike in 2019 when more than three million people lined the 4km parade route.
The executive producer for the parade, Susan Tercero, told apnews.com that “traditions like this are comforting and they’re uplifting”. The parade is in its 94th year and has been cancelled fewer than five times.
Tercero says “New York has always been a touch city. It bounces back. It takes its blows and then it continues on.”
The pandemic, meanwhile, continues unabated, with the number of positive cases in the US at just more than 13 million and 269,555 deaths, according to worldometers late on Thursday night. A record 90,481 Covid-19 hospital admissions were reported by The COVID Tracking Project.
Medical professionals and experts are worried about the strain on hospitals and human resources as frontline workers are burning out – alarm bells were sounded a few weeks ago when public health experts started warning that hospitals were headed for breaking point. That was 65,000 hospital admissions ago. DM
An Wentzel is Night Editor and specialist reporter for Daily Maverick. She went to the US to visit family as the pandemic struck and is currently marooned in the land of the “free”.