President Donald Trump stood before a White House lectern, increasingly disconnected from reality, and delivered a 46-minute diatribe against the election results that created a victory for Democrat Joe Biden, unspooling one error after another to help his unfounded argument that he really won.
Trump called his address, published only on social media on Wednesday and delivered “the most important speech” of his presidency to no audience, perhaps. But the recycling of the same litany of disinformation and unsubstantiated claims of election fraud that he has been making over the past month has been mostly the case.
Even as state after state certifies its results, Trump, who spoke from the Diplomatic Room, continued his futile pushback against the election, and as Biden presses ahead with forming his Cabinet before his inauguration on Jan. 20.
Trump’s comments raised concerns about how far he would be willing to go in his campaign to reverse the victory of Biden, including whether he may press Congressional Republicans to block vote certification, a step that has been proposed by allies of the president.
Compared with 74 million for Trump, Biden got a record 81 million votes. Compared with 232 for Trump, the Democrat also received 306 electoral votes. The split in the Electoral College matches the victory of Trump over Hillary Clinton four years ago, which he then characterised as a “landslide.”
While members of his own administration, including Attorney General William Barr, argue that no evidence of systematic voter fraud has been found, Trump dug deeper into his case for a “rigged election.” Courts have thrown out a barrage of lawsuits filed on behalf of the president in several battleground states.
“This is not just about honouring the votes of 74 million Americans who voted for me,” Trump said. “ It’s about ensuring that in this election, Americans will have confidence. And in all of the future elections.’
His false allegations, in reality, have the opposite impact – undermining public confidence in the legitimacy of the elections in the United States.
Around an hour after it was uploaded, the video of Trump was viewed on Facebook hundreds of thousands of times and shared by over 60,000 Facebook users. The president’s posting was flagged as questionable by both Facebook and Twitter, with Twitter mentioning that Trump’s allegations of election fraud are contested.
Julian Zelizer, a political history professor at Princeton University, said that before 1800, 1876 and most recently , the country had seen close elections. But the election this year does not suit that category.
“This is just a random baseless attack on the entire election,” Zelizer said. “Trump has no turning point. I often say there are parallels or precedents, but there aren’t in this case. He keeps bending norms.”
In some battleground states, Trump said the election results should be “overturned immediately” and indicated that the Supreme Court should intervene in his favour, adding, “Hopefully, they will do what’s right for our country because our country can’t live with this kind of an election.”