(CNN) –– US President Donald Trump told an ally he knows he lost, but that is delaying the transition process and aggressively trying to cast doubt on the election results to exact revenge on Democrats for questioning the legitimacy of their own election in 2016, especially with the Russia investigation, a source familiar with the president’s thinking told CNN on Thursday.
The president’s refusal to give in, as CNN previously reported, is due in part to his alleged complaint that Hillary Clinton and former President Barack Obama undermined his presidency by saying that Russia interfered in the 2016 elections and could have affected the outcome, people around him said.
Trump still holds a grudge against those who he says undermined his election by pointing to Russia’s interference efforts. He has also suggested that it is fair game not to recognize Joe Biden as president-elect. This despite Clinton granting election night in 2016 and Trump’s transition was able to begin immediately.
Trump also continues to process the emotional scars of losing to Biden. Precisely, a candidate that the president repeatedly said about in the campaign was an unworthy opponent, whose victory would amount to humiliation. He again made no public appearance on Thursday. He even stopped attending the first coronavirus task force briefing at the White House in more than six months. Trump plans to participate in a virtual Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit this Friday, a senior administration official told CNN.
Friends and associates of Trump have asked him to allow transition after the election, according to source
The president has heard from a crowd of friends and business associates urging him to at least let the transition begin, according to one source. This, even if he doesn’t want to concede victory, said this person who is also familiar with Trump’s thinking. His answer: No, you are wrong. “Absolutely wrong,” according to one source.
When Trump has been told to take out Rudy Giuliani and other members of his legal team on the case, the president disagreed. He wants to continue the fight. And people close to him have even raised concerns that he is believing Giuliani’s false claims that his legal efforts may change the outcome of the elections. He has shown no signs of backing down, even as those around him continue to signal that the end is near. Those allies have expressed concern that a sizeable faction in the country thinks the election was stolen from Trump. Also against Biden not receiving national security briefings.
Friends and associates, this source said, have been imploring the president to think ahead. They have told him that he is making it more difficult for himself. Also, you will find it difficult to get people to stay in your hotels or even take out loans if you continue this behavior. It will damage your brand, you have been told. The president thinks that is wrong.
His answer is that he had more than 70 million people voting for him. What he believes shows the highest power and authority and that the White House should also ensure. Biden leads by nearly 6 million votes, with 306 electoral votess versus Trump’s 232.
He is “in a losing position”
“The most important thing to keep in mind is that Donald is in a unique position for him,” said Mary Trump, the president’s niece who wrote a damning account of his family life. “Never in his life has he been in a situation where he can’t get out of using someone else’s money, using connections, using power. And he’s not just in a unique position, he’s in a loser position. Which in my family, certainly, as far as my grandfather was concerned, was the worst thing you could be in, “he added.
Trump is listening to his friends, this source said, but quickly ends the talks because he disagrees. You don’t want to hear what you don’t believe.
Inside the White House, it seems a lot of people have decided to let this play out, either because they want to or because they have no other choice. Son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner is taking it well, this source said. Meanwhile, her daughter Ivanka Trump has practically backed away from this, as CNN reported last week.
Ivanka is well aware that she has a business she might want to return to, or even a future political life, the source said.
The president, said this source, “does not see” how bad the consequences of all this could be for the country and for democracy itself. As usual, he is focused on himself, not on covid-19 or the transition.
Trump has even been told that there is no need to concede and to let the transition continue. Not logged, at least not yet.
In another week or 10 days, this source said, it could be a different story.
But he is not yet ready, if he ever is, to concede victory.
Pamela Brown, Kevin Liptak, and Katelyn Polantz, all from CNN, contributed to this story.
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