U.S. President Donald Trump in the Cabinet Room at the White House in Washington, July 9, 2020.
Kevin Lamarque | Reuters
President Donald Trump met with his top election advisors on Wednesday as his chances for reversing an apparent win by President-elect Joe Biden in the race for the White House looked increasingly daunting.
NBC News reported that Trump met with his son-in-law and senior White House advisor Jared Kushner, campaign manager Bill Stepien and senior campaign advisor Jason Miller to discuss a path forward for the Republican incumbent.
Trump held a similar meeting on Tuesday that was more focused on the status of multiple legal challenges his campaign has launched in an attempt to invalidate ballots cast for Biden in six battleground states.
Wednesday’s meeting came as NBC News reported that there is growing expectation among Trump’s advisors that he will never concede that he lost to Biden, even when ballots are certified in coming weeks around the country.
“Do not expect him to concede,” a top aide told NBC. It is more likely, the aide said, that “he’ll say something like, ‘We can’t trust the results, but I’m not contesting them.'”
Biden, a Democratic former vice president, has 77.4 million votes in the popular vote tally, compared with 72.26 million ballots cast for Trump, a margin of 50.8% to 47.4%, with 96% of the expected national vote counted so far.
But the Electoral College vote, not the popular vote, determines who wins the White House. Every state, with the exceptions of Maine and Nebraska, award all of their electoral votes, which are equal to their number of congressional districts plus two, to the winner of their popular election votes.
NBC News has projected that Biden will win at least 279 Electoral College votes, which is nine more than the minimum a candidate needs to clinch a win for the presidency.
Trump is projected as of now to win 217 electoral votes.
Three states have yet to be projected by NBC News: Arizona, Georgia and North Carolina, which together have 47 electoral votes.
Trump is currently leading in the popular vote tally of one of those states, North Carolina, but trails Biden in the other two states by .4 percentage points or less.
Georgia’s secretary of state on Wednesday announced a statewide hand recount of all ballots.
To retain the presidency, Trump would need to reverse at least one of Biden’s projected victories in Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania or Wisconsin, even if he managed to win all three of the remaining states whose results have yet to be projected.
Election analysts and legal observers say his chances of winning a recount or of invalidating enough ballots by proving fraud or some other irregularity to deny Biden a victory in even a single state, much less multiple states, are slim at best.
Biden’s legal advisor Bob Bauer has called the Trump campaign’s legal challenges to ballots “theatrics.”
A White House official told NBC News, “It’s not wrong for the Biden team to call it theater.”
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, a Republican, on Wednesday said it is “very, highly unlikely” that Trump will win enough of the fewer than 45,000 ballots outstanding in Arizona to overcome Biden’s lead there.
Brnovich, whose wife was appointed to the federal judiciary by Trump, also said during a Fox Business interview that his office had not found any evidence of ballot fraud.
In Georgia, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger told Fox 5 Atlanta on Tuesday, “We have not found any widespread voter fraud.”
“I understand half of the people will be happy, half of the people will be sad, but I want 100% of the people to understand that the process was fair and accurately counted,” Raffensperger said.
Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, a Democrat, in a CNN interview Wednesday said that the only known case of voter fraud “in Pennsylvania in this cycle, is a registered Republican in Luzerne County, [who] tried to vote for Trump with his dead mother’s ballot.”
“And at some point, we all have to collectively accept that yelling ‘voter fraud’ when there is no evidence whatsoever of it is yelling ‘fire’ in a crowded theater,” Fetterman said. “It is harming the democratic franchise of our country and the peaceful transition of power, and we cannot accept that.”
In Michigan, state Attorney General Dana Nessel also disputed claims of fraud by the Trump campaign.
“The November elections in Michigan ran as smoothly as ever,” Nessel, a Democrat, said Wednesday.
“Irregularities occur in every election, but there are multiple layers of protection to ensure that these irregularities are caught and rectified.”
“Most of these are simple human error, not crimes,” she said.