US President-elect Joe Biden has condemned Donald Trump’s refusal to accept defeat in the presidential election, saying it sent “a horrible message about who we are as a country”.
Mr Biden said he was confident Mr Trump knew he was not going to win and had shown “incredible irresponsibility”.
There was a fresh setback for the president as Georgia’s recount upheld Mr Biden’s victory in the state.
Mr Trump has launched lawsuits alleging unsubstantiated election fraud.
All but one of Mr Trump’s legal challenges has failed to make any real headway.
Mr Biden’s victory margin in the public vote overall stands at more than 5.9 million. His victory in the US Electoral College system, which determines who becomes president, is projected to be 306 to 232.
What did Mr Biden say?
He was speaking after a virtual meeting with governors, including Democrats and Republicans, about the coronavirus crisis.
Asked about Mr Trump’s lack of concession, Mr Biden said the president was sending “incredibly damaging messages… to the rest of the world about how democracy functions” and that he would be remembered “as being one of the most irresponsible presidents in American history”.
“It’s hard to fathom how this man thinks,” he continued, adding: “It’s just outrageous what he’s doing.”
Of the election result, the Democratic president-elect – who is due to take office in January – said: “The vast majority of people believe it’s legitimate.”
What happened in Georgia?
On Thursday, Georgia’s Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger, said the hand audit of ballots had not altered Mr Biden’s victory in the state.
Earlier, Republicans lost their final lawsuit there as a court rejected their effort to block the results’ certification, which is due to happen on Friday.
The recount found the highest error rate in any county was 0.73% and the overall margin between Mr Biden and Mr Trump remained at under 0.5%.
During the process this week, several thousand untallied votes were found – paring back Mr Biden’s lead slightly – but they were the result of human error and not fraud, voting system manager Gabriel Sterling said.
Officials in Floyd County, Georgia, have fired their election manager over the matter, local media reported on Thursday.
What could Trump’s next move be?
One possibility that US media are speculating on is that he will try to get Republican-friendly state legislatures in key states to override the choice of voters and instead select members of the US Electoral College who would be favourable to the president.
Mr Trump has invited Michigan’s Republican lawmakers to the White House on Friday, hinting at a possible change in tactics.
The US is a democratic republic, and instead of winning by direct popular vote, a president must accumulate a majority of “electors” that each state is designated according to its congressional representation.
Most states determines these based on who won the popular vote there.
But federal law says statehouse legislators have the power to pick electors if the state has “failed to make a choice”.
This would appear a long shot as no evidence of electoral fraud has been shown and to potentially disenfranchise millions of voters would spark uproar.
Reuters news agency quoted one source familiar with the Trump strategy as saying it was now a “more targeted approach towards getting the legislators engaged”.
But one of the Michigan lawmakers going to the White House, Mike Shirkey, said earlier this week that the legislature appointing electors was “not going to happen”.
What of the other legal challenges?
At a Thursday briefing, Mr Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani continued to lay out unsubstantiated conspiracy theories and accusations of electoral fraud.
He railed against the reporting of his team’s legal challenges, saying the media had shown an “irrational pathological hatred for the president”.
Mr Giuliani said the campaign was withdrawing its last remaining lawsuit in Michigan. He said it had achieved its aim of stopping the certification of the result in one key county.
However, the vice-chairman of Wayne County’s canvassing board said an attempt by its two Republican members to rescind their earlier certification of the result was invalid, and the certification was binding.
One of the Republicans said Mr Trump had called her personally after the vote had been certified “to make sure I was safe”.
Mr Biden won the county by a huge margin, according to unofficial results, and prevailed in Michigan by about 146,000 votes.
In Arizona on Thursday, a judge rejected a lawsuit filed last week by the state Republican Party seeking a new audit of ballots in Maricopa County, home to Phoenix – the state’s capital and largest city.
In Pennsylvania, the Trump campaign asked a judge to allow them to restore a claim they had dropped on Sunday that Republican observers were improperly blocked from watching the vote count.
A Trump lawsuit has been filed in Nevada and his campaign has paid for a partial recount in Wisconsin, though election officials there say this will probably only favour Mr Biden.
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