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Biden has won. Will Trump be able to change the results of the election?

By Alma Fabiani

Nov 9, 2020

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On Saturday 7 November, news had just arrived that Joe Biden had been declared the winner of the presidential election of 2020. A record number of more than 75 million Americans had voted for Biden and Kamala Harris, the first woman elected as vice president. But more than 71 million others now had to grapple with the idea that their candidate—Donald Trump—had lost.

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We did it, @JoeBiden.

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As Biden—or should I say anti-Trump—supporters danced in the streets of America, Trump loyalists latched on to the idea that the Republican incumbent would challenge in the courts what he asserted (without evidence) was a fraudulent election. What is Trump planning to do now, and could he actually tilt the election’s results in his favour?

By refusing to publicly accept the election results, Trump incited discord among his supporters, who gladly accepted his invitation. Across the US, they stood outside state capitols with signs that read ‘Stop the Steal’. In some states, confrontations turned into physical assaults. In Sacramento, California, a group of men associated with the Proud Boys were filmed arguing with and assaulting Biden supporters.

On Sunday, as top Republicans remained divided over congratulating Biden and declaring the election over, Trump’s closest advisers continued to brief him on possible “legal remedies,” according to a White House official. Rudolph W. Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, strongly encouraged him while most other advisers have said privately that the chances of changing the results of the election through various court challenges are exceedingly slim.

On that same day, it was announced that Representative Doug Collins of Georgia will lead its recount team in the state, where the effort will begin as soon as the canvassing of ballots has concluded. Meanwhile, some within the Republican Party made it clear that it was time for Trump to concede, including former President George W. Bush who publicly declared the election over in defiance of Trump’s refusal to accept the results.

“I extended my warm congratulations [to Biden] and thanked him for the patriotic message he delivered last night,” Bush said in a statement released after he spoke with Biden by telephone. “I also called Kamala Harris to congratulate her on her historic election to the vice presidency. Though we have political differences, I know Joe Biden to be a good man who has won his opportunity to lead and unify our country.”

Although Bush said that Trump had “the right to request recounts and pursue legal challenges,” his statement clearly highlighted that he did not think those efforts would succeed. His position on the matter could potentially encourage other Republicans to speak out and increase pressure on Trump to stop fighting the results with unsubstantiated claims.

“The American people can have confidence that this election was fundamentally fair,” stated Bush. “Its integrity will be upheld, and its outcome is clear.”

Republican Senators Mitt Romney of Utah and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, have also congratulated Biden, while Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky refused to publicly acknowledge his victory (without necessarily embracing Trump’s false claims). Many Republican leaders have either remained silent or have been calling for all legal votes to be counted.

Speaking on the ABC programme This Week, Governor Kristi Noem of South Dakota insisted that “computer glitches” and reports of “dead people voting in Pennsylvania” were concrete examples of fraud. “When you break the process on which we elect our leaders, you will break America forever,” Noem said, ignoring the fact that voting went smoothly and it is in fact Trump’s refusal to concede that goes against the normal process.

Former Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, a Republican and a friend of Trump, urged other Republicans to embrace the message he had just delivered to Trump: “If your basis for not conceding is that there was voter fraud, then show us. Show us. Because if you can’t show us, we can’t do this. We can’t back you blindly without evidence.”

While we await to see whether Trump will decide to pursue futile legal challenges, here’s what might be next for him and his family business. When Trump entered the White House in 2017, Trump Organization executives said the company had left behind more than 24 international branding deals, including in China, Israel and South America. This year, Trump could focus on selling his name again.

However, his company still faces the investigation into an array of potential financial crimes, conducted by the Manhattan district attorney’s office, which is also seeking Trump’s tax returns. At the same time, the New York State attorney general’s office is conducting a separate civil inquiry into suspicions that the company misstated its assets. Trump and his company have both denied any wrongdoing but neither are willing to provide investigators with more information.

Trump has also hinted at the idea of running again in 2024, which could have an important (and negative) impact on his business in the intervening years. Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump may also hold future political aspirations, which could curb some plans for growth. Finally, the president might turn back to his first true vocation: reality TV.

Only time will tell, but until then, Trump remains the US President until President-elect Biden moves into the White House on 20 January 2021, which leaves Trump almost 3 months to act as US President.