WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump acknowledged for the first time Sunday that Joe Biden won the presidential election, even as he repeated false claims that Democrats “rigged” the balloting and again refused to concede the race.
“He won because the Election was Rigged,” Trump tweeted early Sunday, referring to Biden. His assertion about election malfeasance was at odds with a finding from a national coalition of election security officials, which concluded that the Nov. 3 general election was “the most secure in American history.”
“There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised,” said a statement from the security group, which included the cybersecurity agency within Trump’s own Department of Homeland Security, along with the National Association of State Election Directors.
Trump later tweeted of President-elect Biden: “he only won in the eyes of the FAKE NEWS MEDIA. I concede NOTHING! We have a long way to go.”
Biden defeated Trump in a series of crucial battleground states, including Pennsylvania, Arizona, Wisconsin and Michigan, achieving the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the presidential race with room to spare.
He leads Trump in the popular vote by more than 5 million votes, or 3.6 percentage points.
Will Trump remain the GOP kingmaker? Trump wants to run the Republican party even if he leaves office. Can he?
Trump’s campaign and its allies have filed lawsuits that aim to delay the certification of the results in some of the states that Biden won. But his team has offered no evidence of widespread fraud, and many of the lawsuits have been rejected by the courts.
Legal experts have said Trump’s challenges are almost certain to fail.
Meanwhile, Trump has blocked federal resources for Biden’s transition team and has refused to allow the president-elect access to high-level classified briefings. Incoming presidents typically have access to those assessments, so they can be prepared to deal with any national security threats on Day One.
Several GOP senators have urged Trump to allow the briefings.
On Sunday, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he expected Biden to be the next president of the United States, becoming the latest on a small but growing list of elected Republicans who have acknowledged Biden’s victory.
“It was good actually to see President Trump tweet out that (Biden) won. I think that’s the start of an acknowledgment,” Hutchinson said.
MAGA supporters gather in DC: Tens of thousands rally in DC to support outgoing President Trump
Retweeting commentary from Fox News host Jesse Watters, Trump repeated false claims that Republican election observers were not allowed to watch the vote count (they were). He again decried alleged media bias, and he revived a discredited claim that a company behind the vote tabulation in some states contributed to his loss to Biden.
Trump’s former national security adviser, John Bolton, said Sunday that Trump’s refusal to concede was harmful to the country.
“Every day that he delays … ultimately is to the country’s disadvantage,” Bolton said on ABC’s “This Week.”
As recently as last week, some of Trump’s top aides were continuing to insist that the president won a second term, despite the results.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany answered a question about whether Trump would attend Biden’s inauguration by saying that Trump will attend “his own inauguration.”
On Tuesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo falsely claimed Trump won a second term, saying there would be a “smooth transition to a second Trump administration.”
Biden’s aides welcomed Trump’s seeming acknowledgment Sunday of the president-elect’s win but added that they want him to authorize the transition.
“I accept it as a further confirmation of the reality that Joe Biden won the election,” said incoming White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain on NBC’s “Meet The Press.”
Trump aides said that he was mocking the idea of a Biden victory, and he still expects to prevail after a series of lawsuits, recounts and election challenges.
“The president was referring to the mindset of the media,” said Tim Murtaugh, a campaign spokesman. “His goal remains to unrig the election and continue exposing voting irregularities and unconstitutional election management by Democratic officials.”
Contributing: Kevin Johnson, the Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Donald Trump says Joe Biden ‘won’ election – but no concession