President Donald Trump continues waging battle over an election he lost remained in question Thursday as more of his advisers voiced doubt his gambit to contest the results would succeed. One person who spoke to him called him “dejected” over the ordeal.
Trump himself was waffling by the hour and day between a pugilistic desire to keep fighting and a more resigned attitude that his efforts will ultimately fail, people who spoke to him said.
None said they believed a full-blown concession was imminent, or likely to ever materialize. Some people close to the situation pointed to November 20 — the certification deadline in Georgia, where a hand recount has been ordered — as a potential end-date. Others said the unpredictable President could chose to pull the plug sooner.
But surveyed by CNN, nearly everyone close to Trump said they believed it was only a matter of time before he finds some way to acknowledge he will not be president come January 20 — and said he was likely to pin blame on his baseless claims of a rigged election.
A Trump adviser said the President
A Trump adviser said the President has discussed in recent days whether it was possible for some electors to go rogue and select him as president rather than follow the results in their individual states. It’s unclear how serious Trump was about the idea.
This adviser believes Trump is moving through the emotions of accepting that he won’t be reelected while remaining convinced he was cheated by Democrats in critical states like Pennsylvania.
“We’re near the next phase” of acceptance of the results, the adviser said.
Just in the last day, Trump’s informal campaign adviser, a religious ally, a Republican governor and conservative media personalities have all come out to say the election was won by Biden and that Trump should begin moving on.
Inside the White House, the current period has taken on the feeling of interregnum, as staffers feel obliged to continue their work and even celebrate Trump’s perceived victory while the President largely discontinues his own official tasks.
As Trump was in the White House residence last week, watching his path to a second term slip from grasp, his staffers were holding a premature celebration next door. The White House Office of Presidential Personnel, the unit responsible for administration hiring that has of late become a loyalty enforcer under Trump, threw a victory party in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, sources told CNN, where staffers enjoyed drinks and clinked glasses to a second term.
The ill-timed celebration was another reminder of how the Trump administration is operating as if a second term is in the offing, even as many officials say they are just waiting on the President to publicly accept reality. Budgets are being drawn and staff told to stay put, even though nearly everyone knows the gig will end eventually.
“It could be days. It could be weeks,” one presidential adviser said.
An internal debate continues to rage over the wisdom of continuing with the legal challenges and requests for recounts in several states. One adviser said Trump could be seen as losing twice as his attempts at challenging the results fail one by one.
Since last week, Trump has been advised on numerous occasions that it’s highly unlikely he will prevail in the courts, but he has plowed ahead anyway. Two advisers cautioned Trump could change his mind about the court cases, which may lead to a sudden move to bow out.
But others pointed to the decision in Georgia to conduct a full recount of votes, the results of which won’t be known until late next week, suggesting that is a potential deadline for Trump to finally acknowledge his loss.
A top Senate GOP official said Thursday that Republican leadership has told senators they expect the current situation to drag on “no more than another week,” though even Republican lawmakers close to Trump have acknowledged they have little insight into the President’s strategy