On election night, President Donald Trump believed he would win the election and was reportedly enraged after Fox News called Arizona for Democrat Joe Biden. The news hit Trump so hard that started to behave like “Mad King George, muttering, ‘I won. I won. I won,’ ” according to one close adviser, who spoke to The Washington Post for a remarkable recap of the 20 days since the election.
CIting more than 30 senior administration officials, members of his legal team, campaign aides and advisers, The Post reveals Trump’s increasingly unhinged attempts to overturn the election result, and how those left within the White House humored him.
Those around the president after 3 November were “happy to scratch his itch,” the close adviser told the newspaper.
“If he thinks he won, it’s like, ‘Shh, we won’t tell him.'”
Of the ensuing legal strategy, a senior administration told the paper that the theory was: “Just roll everybody up who is willing to do it into a clown car, and when it’s time for a press conference, roll them out.”
The paper confirmed that, on the night of the election, Trump was enraged by Fox News being the first network to call Arizona for Joe Biden – a call which ultimately proved correct – and that he ordered his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to ring Rupert Murdoch and demand a retraction.
In the days that followed, Trump surrounded himself by people who told him what he wanted to hear, the paper reported, such as campaign pollster John McLaughlin, who told the president of a poll he had conducted after the election that showed him with a positive approval rating and a majority in the country who thought the media had been “unfair and biased against him”.
“Trump scrambled for an escape hatch from reality,” the authors write. But reality doesn’t care about anyone’s feelings.
On 23 November the president reluctantly allowed the General Service Administration to approve the release of funds for the Biden transition team, and grant them permission to speak to government officials.
Permission was granted, however, after Trump’s aides told him that it didn’t mean he had to give up his legal fight, or concede.
The president has vowed to fight on but, with the electors meeting on 14 December to officially name Biden the president-elect, it is seen as a futile fight.