By BEN GITTLESON, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) — As President Donald Trump refused to concede he lost reelection, the lame-duck president remained out of sight Monday while his White House advisers largely stayed silent.
For a president who has reveled in fighting his enemies, real and perceived, the relative silence from his top deputies — aside from certain loyalists like his personal attorney and sons — spoke volumes.
Trump himself had no public events scheduled after spending the weekend golfing and tweeting falsehoods about the election results. He has not taken questions from reporters in a week, and save for remarks on Thursday in which he made a series of false allegations about voting fraud, has not spoken publicly.
Vice President Mike Pence, meanwhile, planned to lead a White House coronavirus task force meeting, according to his office — the first time he had done so in nearly three weeks. Those meetings take place in the White House Situation Room, away from the media.
Aside from a few tweets about the economy and a coronavirus vaccine, Pence has stayed largely silent. He has not appeared with Trump since they took the stage at a White House party early Wednesday morning, when Trump declared — falsely — that “we did win this election.”
The only time the vice president has weighed in on Trump’s allegations of fraud was a short tweet on Thursday — “I Stand With President @realDonaldTrump. We must count every LEGAL vote” — and sharing a request from Trump’s campaign asking for donations “to protect the integrity of our election.”
Otherwise, he has congratulated Republicans who won congressional races.
As Trump took to Twitter to reject the reality of his loss — “I WON THE ELECTION,” he wrote, incorrectly, on Saturday — a coterie of loyalists fanned out across the country leveling baseless claims of voter fraud.
But the group — whose most prominent members included two of the president’s sons and his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani — has so far failed to find any significant legal success and instead spent much time haranguing members of the press.
In a written statement Saturday, Trump said that beginning Monday, his campaign would “start prosecuting our case in court to ensure election laws are fully upheld and the rightful winner is seated”; as of late morning Monday, his campaign had not filed any new suits.
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows — who tested positive for the coronavirus last week — has remained silent. Trump’s White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, took a respite from her official role briefing the public and instead used her personal Twitter account to echo her boss’s baseless claims of fraud.
The White House communications director, Alyssa Farah, struck a different tone over the weekend, tweeting Saturday, “There is more that unites us as a Nation than divides us.”
One White House deputy press secretary, Sarah Matthews, focused on GOP congressional wins, while two others — Judd Deere and Brian Morgenstern — touted economic news instead of claims of voting malfeasance.
The door to the White House press office remained locked later than usual on Monday morning. McEnany told ABC News she did not think Trump would speak today but added, “You never know.”
While the West Wing largely held its tongue over the weekend, first lady Melania Trump did issue a message of support for her husband after a report she was urging him to concede.
“The American people deserve fair elections,” Melania Trump wrote. “Every legal — not illegal — vote should be counted. We must protect our democracy with complete transparency.”
Likewise, the president’s Republican allies on Capitol Hill have publicly voiced support for Trump’s legal fights, with most Republican members of Congress holding off from congratulating Biden.
While Trump refused to accept the election results, President-elect Joe Biden forged ahead with the presidential transition, on Monday announcing the makeup of his own coronavirus task force and plans to meet with transition advisers. He was also scheduled to deliver remarks on the pandemic and on the economy, according to his transition team.
By not conceding, Trump appears to have so far prevented federal funds slated for the transition from reaching Biden’s team. The U.S. General Services Administration, which by law decides when a winner is “ascertained,” had on Monday so far not determined that Biden had won, keeping those funds — and access to U.S. federal agencies — from the president-elect and his team.
Messages of congratulations poured in from across the world, including from Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, whom Trump has counted as a close ally on the international stage.
Others like Russian President Vladimir Putin and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro have held off.
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