WASHINGTON (NYTIMES) – President Donald Trump on Wednesday (Dec 2) released a 46-minute videotaped speech that denounced a “rigged” election and was filled with lies the day after his own attorney general joined election officials across the country in attesting to his defeat.
Mr Trump recorded what he said “may be the most important speech I’ve ever made” in the Diplomatic Room of the White House and delivered it behind a lectern bearing the presidential seal. He then posted a two-minute version on Twitter, with a link to the full version on his Facebook page.
The President once again refused to concede defeat in his bid for reelection almost a month after Election Day, repeating a long list of false assertions about voter fraud and accusing Democrats of a conspiracy to steal the presidency.
Twitter quickly labelled the post “disputed”. Facebook added a note that President-elect Joe Biden, who received almost 81 million votes and 306 electoral votes, is the projected winner of the election.
The video, which a White House official said was recorded last week, was the in-person embodiment of Mr Trump’s staccato tweets over the past three weeks: one falsehood after another about voting irregularities in swing states, attacks on state officials and signature verifications, and false accusations against Democrats.
The President’s rambling assertions in the video were drastically undercut on Tuesday, when Attorney General William Barr told The Associated Press that despite inquiries by the Justice Department and the FBI, “to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election”.
The same day, a Republican election official in Georgia blamed him for inciting violence and a wave of death threats.
“Mr. President, you have not condemned these actions or this language,” said Mr Gabriel Sterling, a voting systems manager in Georgia. “Stop inspiring people to commit potential acts of violence.”
At the end of the video, Mr Trump improbably described himself as the defender of America’s election system, saying he had been told that the single most important accomplishment of his presidency would be protecting the integrity of the voting system.
It was unclear why Mr Trump waited until Wednesday to release the video. But he made it public after a series of rebukes by members of his own party, who have increasingly abandoned him as he refuses to acknowledge the results of the election.
The President’s legal team, led by his personal lawyer, Mr Rudy Giuliani, has lost dozens of lawsuits in courts across the country while making wild allegations without any proof to back them up.
Some of the President’s key Republican allies on Capitol Hill and elsewhere have urged him to move on in recent days. Senator Mitch McConnell, R- Kentucky, the majority leader, who has been conspicuously silent about Mr Trump’s claims, finally referred this week to the “new administration” that would be taking over next year, a clear signal to Mr Trump that his time in office was coming to an end.
But he retains the support of a core group of voters who quickly responded to his latest attack on the election. Within a few hours, his tweet had been “liked” by almost 134,000 Twitter users, and his Facebook video had been shared 93,000 times.