(CNN) — President Donald Trump’s administration is embracing the characteristics of a reeling regime, with its tests of loyalty, destabilizing attacks on the military chain of command, a deepening bunker mentality, and increasingly delusional claims of political victory.
In response, a visibly confident elected president, Joe Biden, is struggling to project calm amid deepening chaos, even as Trump and senior Republicans still refuse to acknowledge the defeat of the president in a surprising break with the democratic traditions of the United States.
Biden is receiving calls from leaders of the country’s main allies, reflecting the inevitability of his rise to power. As the president remains behind closed doors, tweets in capital letters, and unleashes a purge of the Pentagon’s civilian leadership, Biden is in front of the camera. The president-elect is reassuring the American people with the composure bestowed by an election victory in which Trump’s shabby legal cases alleging mass electoral fraud have little chance of overriding the will of the voters.
Biden avoids confrontation with Trump
On Tuesday, the president-elect consciously avoided escalating a confrontation with Trump, who is withholding access and funding that incoming presidents typically depend on to defend their administrations. But although Trump will remain president until January 20, an unmistakable symbolic transfer of authority is taking place despite Trump’s efforts to deny legitimacy to his successor.
“Frankly, we don’t see anything slowing us down,” Biden said.
The president-elect has already crossed the necessary threshold of 270 electoral votes, according to projections by CNN and other major media outlets, and has a chance of matching Trump’s 306 electoral votes in 2016 given his advantages in Georgia and Arizona.
And more false accusations and conspiracy theories touted by Trump supporters to claim voter fraud are dissolving, a day after Attorney General William Barr entered the political fray to advise prosecutors to investigate a major fraud.
Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security rejected rumors that the ballots were cast in the name of deceased individuals.
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But Trump’s team only sank deeper into a strange parallel universe, one in which the president has already secured a second term, consistent with the acceptance of disinformation and alternative facts that have characterized the past four years.
Pompeo uses platform to promote electoral fraud claims
The administration’s challenge took an even more ridiculous turn on Tuesday when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo showed his loyalty to a leader who shows no signs of working on key issues, including a pandemic that has now brought more Americans to hospitals. never.
“There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration,” Pompeo said. When asked if Trump’s refusal to give in undermined traditional US criticisms of corrupt elections abroad, Pompeo responded to a reporter: “That’s ridiculous. And you know it’s ridiculous, and you asked because it’s ridiculous.
As recently as Monday, Pompeo issued a statement warning of electoral problems in Myanmar, which was long ruled by the military and has endured a difficult transition to semi-democracy where dissidents once viewed the United States as a lodestar.
Avoid adding fuel to the fire
In Wilmington, Delaware, the president-elect deliberately refused to add fuel to the fire, dismissing the idea that he needed to take legal action to release the transition funds and making it clear that he was confident that the process of assuming power would eventually work on its own.
He described Trump’s behavior since Election Day as “a disgrace” and, after saying that he was seeking tact, added: “It will not help the president’s legacy.” When asked if Republicans would ever accept his victory, he said, “They will, they will,” and suggested with a half smile that Republican senators were “mildly intimidated” by the president.
Biden, who once had a reputation for being a breezy public speaker, is showing a new personality to the American people. On Tuesday, he chose his words carefully, showing calm, as he undergoes the transformation that often comes with victorious candidates as they begin to assume the burden of the presidency after winning elections.
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Purge at the Pentagon
Trump, by contrast, is tarnishing the instruments of American democracy by refusing to give in and leaving the country more vulnerable with revenge firings that threaten to undermine critical national security agencies.
After Trump fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who put loyalty to the Constitution before his duty to the president, three other senior Pentagon officials were fired or resigned. Among them is the department’s top policy official, James Anderson, who resigned and is being replaced by retired Brigadier General Anthony Tata, whose nomination for the position earlier this summer fell through after CNN’s KFile reported on his numerous Islamophobic and offensive comments in the past.
Sources told Barbara Starr and the CNN Pentagon team that the layoffs could be motivated by Esper and his team’s rejection of a withdrawal from Afghanistan that would take place before the required conditions on the ground were met, and other outstanding security issues.
“It’s very disturbing”
“This is scary, it is very disturbing,” a defense official told CNN. “These are dictatorial actions.”
A disputed transfer of power could offer American adversaries an opportunity, especially if there is a belief abroad that there is a mess in the national security infrastructure. Trump could turn his anger on CIA Director Gina Haspel and FBI Director Christopher Wray, CNN’s Jake Tapper reported. Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut said Tuesday on CNN International that he feared the United States was entering a dangerous period.
“I think (Trump) will be uniquely distracted from world events and national security,” Murphy said. Former national security adviser John Bolton told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that Pompeo’s comments about a transition to another Trump administration were “delusional.”
“I think it has eviscerated his credibility internationally because I think there are very few people, even in the US government, who believe that is the case,” Bolton said.
Trump’s legal battle, against the odds
Despite Trump’s claims that his second term is being robbed, the president’s lawsuit has thus far failed to advance its efforts to claim massive fraud. The tactic looks more and more like a political exercise as Trump struggles to accept defeat while Republican senators fearful of the president’s political base refuse to cross it, especially with two runoff elections in Georgia scheduled for January that will decide control of Your camera.
Trump’s already miniscule chance to change the course of the election is diminishing by the day. Biden now has more than 46,000 votes ahead in Pennsylvania, has risen by 12,000 in Georgia and has a 14,000-vote lead in Arizona. It is unclear if there are enough votes left in the Grand Canyon state for the current president to surpass the president-elect.
When the Trump campaign filed a new lawsuit in Michigan, which Biden won by nearly 150,000 votes, its communications director Tim Murtaugh said, “We believe that ultimately, President Trump will be declared the winner of this election.”
“Far from nowhere”
But Benjamin Ginsberg, a veteran Republican election lawyer, said the Trump campaign “was far from nowhere” in its quest to overturn the election result.
“To win cases, they have to put enough results into play to change the outcome of the elections in individual states and in none of the lawsuits they have filed across the country come close to doing so in any state,” Ginsberg said in “The Situation Room »from CNN.
Yet Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday dug into his insistence that Trump was within his rights to make his complaints.
“I think we should stop complaining and not act like this is extraordinary,” said the recently re-elected Kentucky Republican.
“We are going to get through this period and will be swearing in the winner on January 20, 2021, just as we have done every four years since 1793.”
While many observers believe McConnell is playing a long-term political game, with Georgia’s runoff and the 2022 midterm elections in mind, the silence from Republican senators emboldens Trump’s intransigence.
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The world has already moved on
But while Republican lawmakers are unwilling to break away from the president, many world leaders are moving to embrace Biden, including some who saw themselves as the president’s ideological counterparts.
The Biden campaign issued statements about the president-elect’s calls with the leaders of France, Germany and Ireland. Biden also spoke with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, whose populist leanings made him a good fit with Trump. Johnson promised to work with Biden in a post-COVID-19 era.
Even Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who joined Trump for their common strongman tendencies, issued a public message congratulating Biden on his “electoral success.” And Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – who has a close and controversial relationship with Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner – sent Biden a cable broadcasting congratulations on “His Excellency’s victory in the presidential election.” .
Biden said he had a simple message for all world leaders: “Let them know America is back.”
CNN’s Barbara Starr, Zachary Cohen and Ryan Brown contributed to this story.
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