President Donald Trump came a step closer to concession and battled with reporters at a Thanksgiving press conference on Thursday, indicating that he would leave the White House and accept defeat if the Electoral College confirmed President-elect Joe Biden as the next commander-in-chief.
Speaking to the White House press pool, Trump doubled down on some of his complaints about the election process, but also said he would “certainly” leave the Oval Office when his Democratic rival is inaugurated in January.
The president also announced that he would hold a rally in Georgia at the weekend, an intervention that could prove important ahead of the Senate runoff elections slated for January 5.
Here are five takeaways from the president’s tense Thanksgiving press conference.
Trump Moves Toward Concession
President Trump indicated that he would eventually concede the election to Biden on Thursday, even as he claimed it would be “a mistake” for the Electoral College to confirm the president-elect as the next commander-in-chief.
Asked whether he would concede under the circumstance, Trump replied: “Well, if they do they made a mistake, because this election was a fraud. Just so you understand, this election was a fraud.”
He later told another reporter he would “certainly” leave the White House when the Electoral College confirmed President-elect Biden’s victory.
“Certainly I will. Certainly I will, and you know that,” Trump told the reporter, who asked whether he planned to vacate the Oval Office for his Democratic successor.
‘Don’t Ever Talk to the President That Way’
As he answered questions about his willingness to concede, Trump continued in his attempts to cast doubt over the integrity of the election, and entered a row with a reporter who interrupted him as he spoke.
“Don’t talk to me that way, you’re just a lightweight,” Trump said as he pointed at the reporter. “I’m the president of the United States. Don’t ever talk to the president that way.”
At the time of writing, clips of the incident have been watched millions of times on social media, with one clip being seen more than 4 million times as of Friday morning.
After he’d admonished the reporter for interrupting, Trump moved on to take a question from another journalist.
Trump Unveils Georgia Rally Plans
The commander-in-chief also announced that he would be staging a rally in Georgia on Saturday night ahead of the Senate runoff elections in January, following similar appearances in the state by Vice President Mike Pence last week.
“I’m going on Saturday night, I’ll be in Georgia, we’re going to have a tremendous crowd,” Trump told reporters. “They’re looking for the right site. We’d love to take one of the big stadiums, but you can’t because of the COVID.”
He added that his team would likely have to hold a rally outside instead, possibly at an airport hangar, replicating rallies his re-election campaign held in the run-up to the vote on November 3.
Georgia’s Senate runoff elections will decide whether the GOP holds onto its slim majority in the upper chamber under the first two years of the incoming Biden administration. Should either Republican incumbent hold onto their seat, Republicans will maintain at least a 51-49 majority in the Senate.
President Doubles Down on Pennsylvania Claims
Quizzed over claims his team had made about election fraud in several states, Trump doubled down on his complaints about the alleged treatment of poll watchers in Pennsylvania—a key swing state that certified its election results for Biden earlier this week.
“A poll watcher is considered sacred in our country,” Trump said. “When they throw them out of rooms—”
A reporter then interrupted to say that poll watchers had not been thrown out of polling stations. “Your attorneys admitted they were in the room,” she added.
“My attorneys did not admit anything,” the president replied. “And it’s all different places.” He then proceeded to complain about Republican poll watchers not being able to stand closer to the vote-counting tables to observe tallies.
Trump Could Break with Inauguration Tradition
As he doubled down on his complaints about the electoral process in Pennsylvania, Trump was also asked whether he would keep with tradition and attend the inauguration of President-elect Biden, which is slated to go ahead on January 20.
“I don’t want to say that yet, I mean I know the answer, I know the answer,” Trump told reporters. “I’ll be honest, I know the answer, I just don’t want to say it yet.”
The Daily Beast reported earlier this month that Biden’s team feared Trump would crash his successor’s inauguration, along with a large crowd of sympathetic protesters.
President Trump’s inauguration was met by protests, but his predecessor former President Barack Obama attended the ceremony in line with tradition.