President Donald Trump said for the first time Thursday he will leave office if the Electoral College votes for President-elect Joe Biden but made clear he’s not prepared to concede.
“Certainly I will, and you know that,” Trump said when asked by a reporter about leaving the White House if Biden is declared the winner on December 14. “I will and, you know that.”
“It’s going to be a very hard thing to concede because we know there was massive fraud,” Trump said without evidence.
“As to whether or not we can get this apparatus moving quickly – because time isn’t on our side, everything else is on our side, facts are on our side, this was a massive fraud.”
The President falsely added that if Biden is declared the winner, the Electoral College, “made a mistake, cause this election was a fraud.” Pressed on his comments, Trump snapped at the reporter. “Don’t talk to me that way. I’m the President of the United States. Don’t ever talk to the president that way,” he said.
Thursday was the first time Trump has taken questions from reporters since the election.
Since CNN and other outlets projected Biden as the winner earlier this month, Trump has refused to accept the results, instead pushing baseless conspiracies that his second term is being stolen and launching a legal effort to overturn results.
This includes falsely claiming during an election night address that he had already won reelection, that he had already won states that were actually still up in the air at the time and that his opponents were perpetuating a fraud.
In response, Biden campaign spokesperson Andrew Bates said in a statement earlier this month, “the United States government is perfectly capable of escorting trespassers out of the White House.”
To this point, the Trump campaign’s lawsuits have been repeatedly dismissed or dropped, and earlier this week, the General Services Administration informed Biden that the Trump administration is ready to begin the formal transition process.
The GSA letter marked the first step the administration has taken to acknowledge Trump’s defeat. The President, however, tweeted moments after the letter was reported: “Our case STRONGLY continues, we will keep up the good fight, and I believe we will prevail!”
He echoed that message throughout his rambling news conference Thursday following a Thanksgiving teleconference call with military members – an event US Presidents traditionally use to boost morale of service members stationed abroad during the holidays and remind the country of their service.
CNN’s Betsy Klein contributed to this report.