The statement came just minutes after Trump’s last attempt to prevent the confirmation of Joe Biden’s victory was rejected by Congress, and after weeks of the president contesting the election through a host of outlandish conspiracy theories and fruitless legal challenges.
His efforts culminated in a rally in the country’s capital on Wednesday, during which his supporters stormed and searched the Capitol Building, forcing members of Congress – along with Vice President Mike Pence – to abruptly halt the certification vote and flee the premises. Dozens were arrested and at least four people were killed during the chaos.
Congress came back later that evening to complete the vote. And while Republican lawmakers continued to argue against evidence that widespread fraud had occurred, many in the party announced that they would drop any remaining opposition to Biden’s election.
At the time, Trump had been hiding in the White House for hours and unable to use his favorite social media platforms as his accounts were temporarily suspended after his posts were classified as violent. Top aides had announced their resignation on how he had handled the day’s events, senior officials threatened to leave the administration in the coming days, and even previously supportive Republican senators took the floor to warn him.
“Trump and I, we had a hell of a trip. I hate being like that,” Senator Lindsey Graham (RS.C.) said in the Senate. “All I can say is that I’m counting myself. Enough is enough.” I tried to be helpful. “
Disagreements had developed within the Trump family as to whether or not to admit. Jared Kushner, the president’s senior adviser and son-in-law, asked him to do so weeks ago. First Lady Melania Trump, who wanted to leave the White House and enter private life in Florida, also urged Trump to surrender after the election.
But Trump’s adult sons Don Jr. and Eric pushed him to fight the election. And in the past few weeks, Trump had been relying on the advice of a small group of people – including his lawyer Rudy Giuliani, former New York Mayor and Chief of Staff Mark Meadows – to either urge him to keep trying to overthrow the elections or didn’t want to tell him it was time to give up the fight.
Trump’s statement on Thursday was one of those rare moments when he bowed to those who urged him to publicly acknowledge that he will no longer be president after Jan. 20. It was also one of the few times he broke his base, and he encouraged understanding that the avenues to overturn the election results were over.
“I’ve always said we would continue our fight to make sure that only legal votes are counted,” said Trump. His statement was distributed to reporters by an advisor and on his social media director Dan Scavino’s Twitter account, as the president remained banned from his Twitter account.
Trump’s statement wasn’t a concession, but it was confirmation that his litigation has reached the end of the road and is a capstone to a detrimental week for Republicans. In addition to losing the presidency, the party lost two Senate run-off competitions on Tuesday evening in Georgia, a state that was once considered an impregnable citadel of republican power. The double elections of Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff handed control of the upper chamber to the Democrats for the first time since 2014, strengthening Biden’s chances of setting an ambitious health, climate and economic aid agenda to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic.
The loss of the Senate, where Republicans long obstructed Democrats in everything from ratifying judges to taxes to immigration reform, confirmed internal party critics who had warned for years that mercury populism and the reeling, personality-driven Trump- Style that would ultimately ruin the GOP.
No less than Graham once tweeted: “If we nominate Trump, we will be destroyed … and we will deserve it.” But Graham, like so many Republicans, had come to the conclusion that it was easier and politically smarter to join Trump than to condemn him.
Although Trump said the transition was “neat,” questions remain about how civic the transfer of power between the two men will actually be. Trump has told confidants that he has no plans to attend the inauguration of his future successor, despite having been encouraged to attend by some allies. He had also previously considered hosting a rally that day that could be a forerunner of another run at the White House in 2024.
After what happened on Wednesday, these ambitions could be put on hold. Even so, Trump said that while it is the end of his first term, he will continue his fight to “make America great again”.