US President Donald Trump in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, July 9, 2020.
Kevin Lamarque | Reuters
President Donald Trump met with his top electoral advisors on Wednesday as his chances of undoing an obvious victory for President-elect Joe Biden in the White House race became increasingly daunting.
NBC News reported that Trump met with his son-in-law and senior White House aide, Jared Kushner, campaign manager Bill Stepien, and senior campaign advisor Jason Miller to discuss a path for the incumbent Republican.
Trump held a similar meeting on Tuesday that focused more on the status of several legal challenges that his campaign launched to invalidate the ballots cast for Biden in six battlefield states.
The meeting on Wednesday came as NBC News reported that Trump's advisors are increasingly expecting that he will never admit he lost to Biden, even if ballots are certified across the country in the coming weeks.
"Don't expect him to give way," a top aide told NBC. It is more likely, said the aide, that "he will say something like, 'We cannot trust the results, but I do not dispute them.'"
Biden, a former Democratic vice president, has 77.4 million votes in the popular vote, compared to 72.26 million votes for Trump, a margin of 50.8% to 47.4%, with 96% of the expected national votes have been counted so far.
But the election of the electoral college, not the referendum, determines who wins the White House. With the exception of Maine and Nebraska, each state gives all of its electoral votes equal to the number of congressional districts plus two to the winner of its popular election.
NBC News has forecast that Biden will win at least 279 electoral college votes, nine more than the minimum it takes for a candidate to win the presidency.
Trump is expected to win 217 votes as of now.
Three states have yet to be projected by NBC News: Arizona, Georgia and North Carolina, which together have 47 votes.
Trump is currently leading the referendum of one of those states, North Carolina, but is 0.4 percentage points or less behind Biden in the other two.
Georgia's Secretary of State announced on Wednesday a nationwide handcensus of all ballot papers.
To keep the presidency, Trump would have to undo at least one of Biden's planned victories in Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania or Wisconsin, even if he managed to win all three remaining states whose results have not yet been projected.
Election analysts and legal watchers say his chances of winning a recount or invalidating enough ballot paper by demonstrating fraud or other irregularity to deny Biden a win in a single state, let alone multiple states, are slim at best.
Biden's legal advisor, Bob Bauer, has called the legal challenges of Trump's ballot campaign "theater".
A White House official told NBC News, "There is nothing wrong with the Biden team calling it theater."
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich said Wednesday it was "very, very unlikely" that Trump would win enough of the less than 45,000 outstanding ballots in Arizona to overcome Biden's leadership there.
Brnovich, whose wife was called to federal justice by Trump, also said during a Fox Business interview that his office had found no evidence of election fraud.
In Georgia, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger told Fox 5 Atlanta Tuesday, "We have not found any widespread election fraud."
"I understand that half the people will be happy, half the people will be sad, but I want 100% of the people to understand that the process was counted fairly and accurately," said Raffensperger.
John Fetterman, a Pennsylvania Democrat, said in a CNN interview on Wednesday that the only known case of election fraud "in Pennsylvania this cycle is a registered Republican in Lucerne County trying to vote for Trump on his ballot dead mother. "
"And at some point we all have to accept together that when there is no evidence of it screaming 'election fraud', it screams 'fire' in a crowded theater," said Fetterman. "It damages our country's democratic suffrage and the peaceful transfer of power, and we cannot accept that."
In Michigan, Attorney General Dana Nessel also denied Trump campaign fraud allegations.
"The November elections in Michigan went as smoothly as never before," said the Democrat Nessel on Wednesday.
"There are irregularities in every election, but there are several layers of protection to ensure that these irregularities are caught and corrected."
"Most of these are simple human errors, not crimes," she said.