A small but influential group of Republicans has begun urging President Donald Trump to concede last week’s election, with a growing number using the term “president-elect” to refer to Joe Biden.
Mr Trump has refused to accept his loss and continues to make baseless claims of voter fraud, while Republican lawyers have filed lawsuits intended to challenge the results in some of the key states that helped Mr Biden secure victory, such as Pennsylvania and Michigan.
Republican leaders in Congress and many GOP lawmakers have argued that the winner is only declared once each state certifies its results, a position that avoids antagonising the conservative base of Trump supporters. But a growing number have started to urge Mr Trump to accept the inevitable.
In an interview with CNN on Thursday, Mike DeWine, the governor of Ohio, acknowledged that Mr Biden had won the presidential election. “Joe Biden is the president-elect,” said Mr DeWine, a Republican who endorsed Mr Trump for re-election.
Karl Rove, a former top campaign strategist to George W Bush, said there was “no evidence” of the kind of fraud that could overturn the result of the election, and added that the margins in states such as Pennsylvania and Michigan meant that any recount would not alter the outcome of the race.
“Once his days in court are over, the president should do his part to unite the country by leading a peaceful transition and letting grievances go,” Mr Rove wrote in The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday.
Many experts expected Mr Trump would not easily concede because he had refused to commit to a peaceful transition before the election. Mr Trump is now hampering the transfer of power by refusing to allow government officials to co-ordinate with the Biden transition team.
Intelligence officials cannot provide Mr Biden with the intelligence briefings that are customary for a president-elect because the Trump appointee who heads the government agency that must approve the funds and facilities for presidential transitions has refused to certify that Mr Biden has won.
In another sign that Republicans are becoming frustrated James Lankford, an Oklahoma lawmaker on the Senate oversight committee, vowed to intervene if Mr Trump does not allow Mr Biden to get intelligence updates. “There is no loss from him getting the briefings and to be able to do that,” Mr Lankford told a radio station in Oklahoma.
Two more senior Republican senators — John Thune from South Dakota and Chuck Grassley from Iowa — on Thursday both told CNN that they also believed that Mr Biden should be provided with intelligence briefings.
Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate majority leader, has said Mr Trump was entitled to pursue legal challenges, which has sparked concern among Democrats. But the Kentucky senator, who is known for his precise use of language, had not endorsed the baseless claims of voter fraud.
Corey Stapleton, the secretary of state of Montana which is one of the most conservative states, said Mr Trump had accomplished “incredible things” in office but that it was time for him to move on gracefully.
“I have supported you, Mr. President, we (Montana) have supported you . . . But that time is now over. Tip your hat, bite your lip, and congratulate @JoeBiden,” Mr Stapleton tweeted.
Mr Trump still retains the support of his biggest allies in conservative media, including Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham — three Fox News anchors who have been big supporters of the president. But Geraldo Rivera, Fox News correspondent at large, joined the chorus of allies pleading with Mr Trump to accept Mr Biden as the legitimate winner.
“Time coming soon to say goodbye with grace & dignity,” Mr Rivera tweeted.
He was joined by Hugh Hewitt, a popular conservative radio show host and strong Trump supporter, who wrote in The Washington Post: “Trump must look forward. So must his party.”
In a tough rebuke, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, a newspaper owned by Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate who has been a big booster of the president, called on him to stop delaying the inevitable result.
“The president does a disservice to his more rabid supporters by insisting that he would have won the Nov 3 election absent voter fraud,” the newspaper wrote in an editorial.
“There is no evidence, however, that fraud cost Mr Trump the election, no matter how much the president tweets the opposite and his supporters wish it so,” it added.
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