WASHINGTON — Even for President Trump, it was an imagined model of actuality, one wherein he was not dropping however the sufferer of a wide-ranging conspiracy stretching throughout the nation in a number of cities, counties and states, involving untold numbers of individuals all someway collaborating to steal the election in methods he couldn’t really clarify.
By no means thoughts that Mr. Trump offered not a shred of proof throughout his first public look since late on election evening or that few senior Republican officeholders endorsed his false claims of far-reaching fraud. A presidency born in a lie about Barack Obama’s birthplace appeared on the sting of ending in a lie about his personal faltering bid for re-election.
“Should you depend the authorized votes, I simply win,” Mr. Trump stated Thursday evening in an unusually subdued, 17-minute televised assertion from the lectern within the White Home briefing room, complaining that Democrats, the information media, pollsters, large expertise firms and nonpartisan election employees had all corruptly sought to disclaim him a second time period.
“It is a case the place they’re attempting to steal an election,” he stated. “They’re attempting to rig an election, and we are able to’t let that occur.”
He satisfied few individuals who weren’t already in his nook. Many of the tv networks minimize away from the assertion on the grounds that what Mr. Trump was saying was not true. On CNN, former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, a Republican typically put within the place of defending Mr. Trump through the years, appeared exasperated as he denounced the president’s unfastened discuss of election thievery as “harmful” and “surprising” and declared that “counting absentee ballots and counting mail-in ballots is not fraud.”
The New York Submit, which printed salacious articles on Hunter Biden planted by Mr. Trump’s associates earlier than the election, headlined an article: “Downcast Trump Makes Baseless Election Fraud Claims in White Home Deal with.” Even Fox Information famous it had seen no “laborious proof” of widespread wrongdoing.
“There isn’t a protection for the President’s feedback tonight undermining our Democratic course of,” Gov. Larry Hogan, Republican of Maryland and a critic of the president, wrote on Twitter. “America is counting the votes, and we should respect the outcomes as we at all times have earlier than. No election or individual is extra essential than our Democracy.”
Former Gov. Chris Christie, Republican of New Jersey and a longtime ally of Mr. Trump’s, likewise disputed the president. “I discuss tonight not as a former governor however as a former U.S. legal professional — there’s simply no foundation to make that argument tonight,” he said on ABC News. “There simply isn’t.”
Together with his presidency on the road, Mr. Trump’s lonely look within the briefing room with no allies becoming a member of him and solely workers members and reporters in attendance underscored how remoted he has turn into simply two days after Election Day. With vote counts in key states turning grimmer whilst he spoke, Mr. Trump was poised to finish this time period in workplace the way in which he started his presidential marketing campaign in 2015 — defended most vocally by relations and some loyalists whereas Republican leaders held him at arm’s size moderately than embrace outlandish claims.
With Republican members of Congress largely staying silent or issuing anodyne feedback concerning the significance of clear vote counting, Mr. Trump was left to dispatch his two grownup sons to carry information conferences in Pennsylvania and Georgia to protest points of the vote depend. They had been accompanied by allies like Rudolph W. Giuliani, his private lawyer, and Corey Lewandowski, his first marketing campaign supervisor from 2016. The identical scene performed out in Nevada, the place a Trump ally, Richard Grenell, made claims about voting fraud that information shops debunked a short while later.
Members of Mr. Trump’s inside circle sounded nearly determined as they sought to threaten different Republicans into backing Mr. Trump. Each Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump posted messages on Twitter complaining that Republicans weren’t standing with their father, particularly those that might want his assist in the event that they run for president in 4 years.
“The whole lack of motion from nearly the entire ‘2024 GOP hopefuls’ is fairly wonderful,” Donald Trump Jr. wrote. “They’ve an ideal platform to indicate that they’re keen & capable of struggle however they may cower to the media mob as an alternative.”
“The place are Republicans!” Eric Trump added about an hour and a half later. “Have some spine. Battle in opposition to this fraud. Our voters will always remember you in case your sheep!”
Brad Parscale, who was eliminated this 12 months because the president’s marketing campaign supervisor, echoed the theme in more menacing terms. “If you wish to win in 2024 as a Republican,” he wrote, “I’d in all probability begin saying one thing.”
After Donald Trump Jr. went after Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, for not talking up, the senator went on Sean Hannity’s present on Fox on Thursday evening and got here to the president’s protection, asserting with no proof that “Philadelphia elections are crooked as a snake” and that the “allegations of wrongdoing are earth shattering.”
Others like Senators Ted Cruz of Texas and John Barrasso of Wyoming supplied assist for Mr. Trump’s insistence that election observers be allowed to observe counting, which on the whole they’re, with out embracing the claims that the election was being stolen. “The president is true to make sure all legally solid votes be noticed and counted,” Mr. Barrasso stated.
However they had been among the many few who spoke as much as echo Mr. Trump’s chorus that he was being denied his due within the type of successful the election, a primal scream emanating from the president that was summed up earlier within the day by his personal offended, plaintive, all-caps tweet: “STOP THE COUNT!”
Allies stated privately that the president gave the impression to be raging in opposition to the inevitable and was solely doing harm along with his baseless accusations about widespread fraud. Even allies who stated they shared a few of his considerations in a focused approach about particular guidelines governing mail-in voting through the coronavirus pandemic had been unwilling to hitch Mr. Trump’s unfounded claims.
A lot of those that did remark merely stated they wished “transparency” or for all “authorized” votes to be counted, a phrase used by Vice President Mike Pence on Twitter that was supposed to sound as if he was echoing Mr. Trump. Inside Mr. Trump’s circle, Kellyanne Conway, his former counselor, was one of many few who spoke of counting the entire votes.
For a lot of the 12 months, some Trump advisers questioned whether or not the president really wished a second time period, or if he merely didn’t need to be seen because the worst epithet in his lexicon: a loser. The reply nonetheless was not clear because the votes had been being tallied this week.
He sounded dejected on Thursday night as he went by means of a litany of random minor incidents involving ballots, known as Philadelphia and Detroit “corrupt” and insisted he had really gained an election wherein former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. was main by tens of millions of votes nationally and appeared prone to assemble a majority within the Electoral Faculty as soon as a handful of swing states completed counting.
Mr. Trump bemoaned what number of by-mail votes seemed to be solid for Democrats. “They’re discovering ballots abruptly: ‘Oh, we’ve some mail-in ballots,’” he stated. “It’s wonderful how these mail-in ballots are so one-sided.” He glossed over the truth that he had spent months telling his supporters that mail-in balloting was corrupt and urging them to vote in individual as an alternative.
He likewise lashed out at others, as properly, searching for many guilty for his troubles. “The pollsters received it knowingly flawed,” he stated. (In truth, they did get many outcomes flawed, however there is no such thing as a proof that it was intentional.)
“The voting equipment of these states are run in all instances by Democrats,” he stated of states nonetheless counting. (In truth, Georgia and Arizona have Republican governors.)
“We gained a case, an enormous case,” he stated. (In truth, the marketing campaign merely gained a court docket ruling saying that observers ought to be allowed to face six toes away from counting moderately than farther away.)
After he was finished, the president took no questions from reporters and marched out of the room, wanting glum. It was the sort of look that a number of aides had stated made them glad he had remained out of public view for the reason that early hours of Wednesday morning, when he insisted he had gained the election as a number of key states nonetheless had not had a projected winner and known as what was going down a “fraud” on the American public.
The Trump marketing campaign is submitting a sequence of lawsuits, however allies of the White Home have stated the method appears to be geared toward each working out the clock and appeasing a litigious president, who typically turns to authorized filings as an instantaneous plan of action.
However whereas Mr. Trump has some skilled legal professionals and political professionals main his marketing campaign, the general public effort to lift questions concerning the election has been disjointed and appeared thrown collectively on the final minute. Some administration officers stated they had been mortified by footage of Mr. Giuliani bellowing in Philadelphia.
A few of Mr. Trump’s allies have inspired the decision for a blitz of authorized motion, together with folks like Stephen Ok. Bannon, the previous White Home chief strategist who faces legal fees for an allegedly fraudulent scheme scamming supporters of Mr. Trump’s border wall.
Republicans have begun having discussions about how one can broach the subject with Mr. Trump of specializing in life after the presidency, and what leaving quietly might imply for his household, his enterprise and his personal potential to stay in politics.
Some have prompt that sounding notes of encouragement a couple of 2024 marketing campaign could possibly be efficient. Others consider that he’ll concede whether it is clear he has misplaced, however that he’ll almost certainly by no means publicly settle for the end result.
Within the meantime, Mr. Trump’s advisers had been divided on what he ought to be doing till the ultimate vote counts are introduced. There have been some discussions about his holding a rally as quickly as this weekend, one individual briefed on the talks stated.
However after Mr. Trump’s briefing room look, a number of advisers conceded that the clock on the Trump presidency was nearly actually winding down.
Peter Baker reported from Washington, and Maggie Haberman from New York. Catie Edmondson and Nicholas Fandos contributed reporting from Washington.