President Donald Trump refused to concede the 2020 presidential election on Saturday, even after The Associated Press, Fox News and other outlets officially projected him to be the loser. In a statement published by his campaign, Trump vowed to continue fighting legal battles against the counting of mail-in ballots. He wrote that "legal votes decide who is president, not the news media."
"We all know why Joe Biden is rushing to falsely pose as the winner, and why his media allies are trying so hard to help him: they don't want the truth to be exposed," read the statement from Trump's campaign. "The simple fact is this election is far from over. Joe Biden has not been certified as the winner of any states, let alone any of the highly contested states headed for mandatory recounts, or states where our campaign has valid and legitimate legal challenges that could determine the ultimate victor. In Pennsylvania, for example, our legal observers were not permitted meaningful access to watch the counting process."
Statement from the president issued by the Trump campaign. President Trump is currently at his golf property in Virginia. pic.twitter.com/vcT2EKyhEi— Kelly O'Donnell (@KellyO) November 7, 2020
Many of these talking points are expected from the president, and many critics argue that they are harmful to the public faith in democracy overall. However, it is true that Biden has only been projected as the winner, not legally declared the President-Elect.
"Beginning Monday, our campaign will start prosecuting our case in court to ensure election laws are fully upheld and the rightful winner is seated," the statement went on. "The American People are entitled to an honest election: that means counting all legal ballots, and not counting any illegal ballots. This is the only way to ensure the public has full confidence in our election. It remains shocking that the Biden campaign refused to agree with this basic principle and wants ballots counted even if they are fraudulent, manufactured or cast by ineligible or deceased voters."
To be clear, Biden has not encouraged the counting of "illegal ballots," nor is there any substantial evidence of widespread voter fraud in the election. The president's words here were criticized as inflammatory and potentially dangerous for the U.S. as a whole.
"Only a party engaged in wrongdoing would unlawfully keep observers out of the court room — and then fight in court to block their access," he went on, with no basis in truth. "So what is Biden hiding? I will not rest until the American People have the honest vote count they deserve and that Democracy demands."
This statement added fresh fuel to concerns that Trump will not concede easily, even after the final vote tally, and perhaps even after his legal challenges have played out. It also renewed concerns that he would remain a divisive figure in U.S. politics, president or not.