President Donald Trump is still refusing to concede that Joe Biden won the election and continuing to try to challenge the results in court— but a series of recent leaks suggests he might see the writing on the wall.
The Washington Post’s Philip Rucker, Josh Dawsey, and Ashley Parker reported Wednesday that “in an indication [Trump] may be starting to come to terms with his loss, he is talking privately about running again in 2024.”
Steve Holland of Reuters similarly reported, per “a source familiar with internal discussions,” that Trump has been “telling allies he planned to run for president in 2024 and could announce it by the end of the year.”
Peter Alexander of NBC News reported that, per a top White House aide, Trump is “very aware there is not a path to victory” and is only contesting the results as a form of “theater.”
And the Wall Street Journal’s Rebecca Ballhaus and Rebecca Davis O’Brien write: “An official said Mr. Trump understands that the fight isn’t winnable but characterized his feelings as: ‘Let me have the fight.’”
Other reports, such as one from Mike Allen of Axios, say Trump is telling friends he wants to start a media company as a competitor to Fox News.
All these cite anonymous sources and contrast with Trump’s public statements. But if accurate, they suggest that, while Trump may never openly admit he lost and may continue to claim the election has been “stolen” from him, he is not going to keep actually trying to block a Biden presidency indefinitely. (CNN’s Dana Bash cites a source who says Trump won’t publicly acknowledge his loss until the Georgia recount, expected to end November 20, has concluded.)
As I wrote Wednesday, the next important steps in the electoral process are for the states to certify their results, and for the electors to officially be chosen. For Trump to have any shot at overturning the results, he has to somehow block either certifications or electors from multiple states Biden won.
The president is currently not on track to accomplish either, and his prospects for doing either appear dim. Trump’s legal team has filed suits in various states to try to block the certification of results, but those suits look to be frivolous. They have also discussed the possibility of getting GOP state legislators to appoint pro-Trump electors, but Ballhaus and O’Brien write that “it isn’t known how seriously the campaign has considered this idea.”
None of this is to say that Trump would turn down an opportunity to stay in office should it present itself, whether through friendly judges or partisan state legislators.
But top Republicans like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have said that, while Trump is within his rights to pursue legal options now, the states’ results certifications and the Electoral College will settle things.
Particularly if Trump is now talking about a 2024 presidential campaign, it would appear his thoughts are turning to ways he can remain in the spotlight and at the forefront of the political scene once he is no longer the president.