Twitter confirmed Saturday it will hand control of the presidential @POTUS account to Joe Biden when he is sworn in on inauguration day, even if President Donald Trump has not conceded his election loss.
“Twitter is actively preparing to support the transition of White House institutional Twitter accounts on January 20th, 2021,” the social network said in a statement to AFP.
“As we did for the presidential transition in 2017, this process is being done in close consultation with the National Archives and Records Administration,” the statement said.
The handover will see all existing tweets on @POTUS, as well as @FLOTUS (the First Lady), @VP (vice president) and other official accounts, archived.
The accounts will then be reset to zero tweets and transferred to the incoming Biden White House that day.
Trump, who still has not conceded his November 3 loss, used Twitter to help build his political brand and, later, wield the power of the presidency — though he mainly uses his personal account, @realDonaldTrump, whose 88 million followers dwarf @POTUS’s 32 million.
The @POTUS account is largely used to retweet Trump’s personal account, as well as the White House and other accounts.
Trump’s frequent habit of abruptly announcing new policies on the platform has led to long-standing complaints of governing by tweet.
Twitter has long come under pressure to curb the president’s use of the site to spread misinformation and conspiracy theories.
Since the election, the company has slapped warning labels on many Trump tweets as he continues to insist — despite all evidence to the contrary — that he won the vote, and that Biden’s victory is due to massive fraud.
Biden, for his part, is a far more sedate Twitter user. He has sent fewer than 7,000 tweets to his 19 million followers, compared to Trump’s 58,000.
US President Donald Trump’s eldest son Donald Trump Jr has tested positive for Covid-19 and is quarantining without symptoms, the latest in a long list of infections among those with links to the White House.
“Don tested positive at the start of the week and has been quarantining out at his cabin since the result,” his spokesman said.
“He’s been completely asymptomatic so far and is following all medically recommended COVID-19 guidelines,” the spokesman said of the 42-year-old.
Trump Jr’s positive test follows infections for a string of others connected to the White House, including his father, who was hospitalized, the president’s wife Melania and Trump’s youngest son Barron.
Donald Jr’s girlfriend, former Fox News host Kimberly Guilfoyle, also tested positive in July.
Earlier Friday, Andrew Giuliani, a White House aide and son of the president’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani announced he had tested positive.
Trump Jr is one of the most outspoken and aggressive defenders of his father, who is still refusing to recognize his defeat to Democrat Joe Biden in the November 3 presidential election.
In the days after the vote, Trump Jr called for his father to go to “total war” against what he calls electoral fraud despite no evidence to support the claim.
Like his father he has also consistently downplayed the pandemic, telling Fox News as the virus surged around the country last month that deaths from Covid-19 had fallen to “almost nothing.”
– Surging cases –
Trump’s administration has been heavily criticized for its response to the pandemic and for downplaying the dangers.
Many in the crowds at his pre-election rallies were often maskless and not abiding by social-distancing rules.
They were a sharp contrast with Biden’s drive-in rallies and his scrupulous mask-wearing.
On Monday, the president-elect expressed frustration over Trump’s refusal to cooperate on the White House transition process, saying “more people may die” of coronavirus without immediate coordination on fighting the pandemic.
With Trump refusing to concede defeat, Biden and his team have been unable to coordinate with government officials on crucial continuity of issues like national security, but also on emergencies like a distribution plan for Covid-19 vaccines to tens of millions of Americans.
Current US numbers — more than a quarter of a million deaths have been reported — have alarmed authorities enough to advise that people stay home for next week’s Thanksgiving holiday, when Americans usually travel to be with their families.
New York City has shut down schools for its 1.1 million students, while California will impose a 10:00 pm to 5:00 am curfew from Saturday.
There was however a new sign of hope on Friday as US biotech giant Pfizer and German partner BioNTech sought approval to roll out their coronavirus vaccine early.
US President Donald Trump will take part Friday in an Asia-Pacific summit as he continues to reject his election loss, a day after Xi Jinping used the forum to hail China’s growing economic clout.
The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) gathering, held online this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, brings together 21 Pacific Rim countries, accounting for about 60 percent of global GDP.
Beijing has become the main driving force behind the trade grouping after the United States began withdrawing from multilateral bodies during Trump’s presidency.
Xi, boosted by the signing last week of the world’s biggest trade pact, gave a keynote address to the forum Thursday, hailing China as a pivot point for global commerce and vowing to keep its “super-sized” economy open.
Washington broke with its usual practice and did not send a representative to deliver a public speech at the two days of meetings, but a senior US official confirmed Trump would take part in the official summit on Friday evening.
He will deliver a speech to fellow leaders but the event is mostly closed to the media, according to officials in host country Malaysia.
It will be only the second time that Trump, who is pursuing legal challenges after his election loss to Democrat Joe Biden, has participated in APEC, the other occasion being in 2017.
Oh Ei Sun, an analyst from the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, said Trump would be aiming to “present himself as ‘presidential’ on the global stage”.
“Trump would, of course, take this opportunity to present himself as a sitting president for domestic political advantage,” he told AFP.
The president would also “like to reiterate his administration’s hallmark emphasis on protectionism and in the process forestall China from claiming leadership in the global free-trade agenda”, he added.
– ‘Don’t repeat past mistakes’ – Trump has repeatedly claimed without evidence that the voting and counts in the November 3 election were fraudulent, with his campaign launching various lawsuits.
Trump has taken a hard line on China during his tenure, hitting the world’s number-two economy with a barrage of tariffs and tech restrictions, and a Biden administration is expected to see a more nuanced extension of Washington’s current China policy.
This year’s APEC gathering comes a week after China and 14 other Asia-Pacific countries signed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the world’s biggest free-trade pact.
The deal, which excludes the US, is viewed as a major coup for China and further evidence that Beijing is setting the agenda for global commerce as Washington retreats.
Signatories hope the pact will help their virus-hit economies on the road to recovery, and many leaders at the APEC forum warned against turning inwards in response to the pandemic.
“Trade has been the engine of growth and prosperity in APEC since it was founded 30 years ago,” New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.
“As we confront the region’s biggest economic challenge, we must not repeat the mistakes of history by retreating into protectionism.”
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said that “making rules for a free and fair global economy is critically important”, at a time there was a risk of turning inward during the global economic slump.
APEC gatherings have in recent years been overshadowed by trade tensions between the US and China — leaders could not agree on a joint declaration at their previous summit in 2018 — but there are hopes for a more constructive American approach under Biden.
US President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday held his first talks since his victory with the prime ministers of Israel and India, allies of Donald Trump who has not conceded defeat.
Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who had a notoriously rocky relationship with the last Democratic president, Barack Obama, that he was determined “to ensure that the US-Israel relationship is strengthened and enjoys strong bipartisan support.”
Biden “reiterated his steadfast support for Israel’s security and its future as a Jewish and democratic state,” the president-elect’s office said in a statement.
The office of Netanyahu, who had vigorously challenged the 2009-2017 Obama-Biden administration over its diplomacy with Iran and push for Palestinian rights, said he had a “warm” conversation with the president-elect.
Biden also spoke to President Reuven Rivlin, whose position is largely ceremonial.
“I said that as an old friend of Israel he knows our friendship is based on values beyond partisan politics,” Rivlin wrote on Twitter.
Biden separately voiced optimism about working with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had heaped praise on Trump in two giant joint rallies in Texas and Gujarat.
India enjoys support across party lines in Washington but Democratic lawmakers have increasingly voiced concern about human rights under the Hindu nationalist Modi, including his championing of a controversial citizenship law and revocation of autonomy in Muslim-majority Kashmir.
Biden said he hoped to cooperate with Modi on common challenges including the Covid pandemic, regional security, climate change and, in a delicate choice of words, on “strengthening democracy at home and abroad.”
The Indian foreign ministry said Modi for his part called for cooperation on promoting access to affordable vaccines and also conveyed greetings to Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, whose mother was born in India.
Trump has refused to concede defeat two weeks after the election but the leaders of virtually all countries have congratulated Biden except Russia, Mexico, Brazil, North Korea, and Slovenia.
Biden’s first calls took place with US allies who had tense ties with Trump including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Thousands of Donald Trump supporters rallied in Washington on Saturday, with the president making a drive-past in his motorcade as he sticks to discredited claims that mass fraud denied him election victory.
Marchers close to the White House greeted Trump’s brief appearance with wild cheers, waving and whistles, holding signs and flags saying “Best prez ever,” “Stop the steal” and “Trump 2020: Keep America Great.”
Several thousand people had gathered by noon on the city’s Freedom Plaza, with more still arriving from all sides, waving flags and shouting “Four More Years” in a festive atmosphere reminiscent of a Trump rally.
With right-wing militia group the Proud Boys also among those rallying, a large security presence was deployed in the capital to prevent clashes with anti-Trump events scheduled outside the Supreme Court.
The latest tallies gave Trump’s Democratic challenger Joe Biden a solid final win in the state-by-state Electoral College that decides the presidency, with 306 votes against Trump’s 232. Two hundred seventy votes are required for election.
But Margarita Urtubey, 49, a horse breeder who flew in from Miami with her sister, told AFP the election was “so corrupt,” adding “Trump won by a landslide. We are here to march for the ‘stop the steal’ of this election, to make our voice heard.”
Darion Schaublin, who drove from Columbus, Ohio, came to protest the fact “the whole system’s rigged… in the way that the information is getting to the people.”
“The truth never actually gets out,” said the 26-year-old, who says he lost his job in a restaurant after refusing to wear a mask as protection from Covid-19.
Schaublin estimated there was a “95 percent” chance Trump would not have a second term — “and I’m not sure of the legitimacy of that.”
The final two undeclared states were called on Friday by US television networks — with Biden winning the former Republican stronghold of Georgia in a close race, and Trump winning North Carolina.
President Trump continues to impede Biden’s ability to prepare for his transition ahead of inauguration on January 20 and has filed numerous lawsuits — unsuccessfully — to challenge vote counts around the country.
On Friday, a judge in Michigan issued another rejection of Republican claims of fraud.
‘Time will tell’
Trump said Friday that “time will tell” if he remains president, in a momentary slip of his unprecedented refusal to concede his election defeat.
Trump broke his silence after a week without on-camera comments, speaking at a Rose Garden event to herald the imminent authorization of a coronavirus vaccine.
During a short speech about the vaccine work, Trump insisted that he would never again call for a lockdown to curb the virus’s spread.
Then he added, “Whatever happens in the future, who knows which administration it will be, I guess time will tell.”
The hint of doubt came despite him continuing to claim that mass fraud — for which no evidence has been produced — robbed him of victory in the November 3 election.
Despite his own intelligence officials’ declaration Thursday that the election was “the most secure in American history,” Trump and his right-wing media allies show no sign of giving up their quest to get the results overturned.
“President Trump believes he will be President Trump, have a second term,” spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany said on Fox News.
After driving past demonstrators in Washington, Trump headed Saturday to his golf club outside the capital on his regular weekend routine.
Half a dozen supporters stood at one side of the entrance with Trump flags, and about the same number stood on the opposite side with a big “Biden Harris” sign and one that said: “We voted. You’re fired.”
Biden is steadily preparing for power, with many world leaders congratulating him on his victory.
China was the latest nation on board, with a foreign ministry spokesman saying, “We express our congratulations.”
Joe Biden has won the state of Arizona, United States networks said late Thursday, further cementing his lead in the Electoral College and flipping the state Democratic for the first time since 1996.
NBC, CBS, ABC and CNN projected Biden as the winner in the tight race with a lead of more than 11,000 ballots, giving him the state’s 11 electoral votes.
Fox News and The Associated Press called the race in the southwestern state in Biden’s favour on Election Night, triggering the wrath of President Donald Trump, but the other outlets held off on declaring a winner until after nine days of ballot counting.
Arizona gives Biden a 290-217 lead over Trump in the Electoral College that ultimately decides the presidency, with 270 needed to win the White House.
Despite Biden being declared winner of the election on Saturday, Trump has refused to concede and continues to make baseless claims of election fraud.
Races in North Carolina and Georgia have yet to be called.
Since 1948 when Harry Truman won the state, Biden is the second Democrat to win Arizona. Although former President Bill Clinton narrowly won the state in 1996, Arizona moved further right in the next two decades.
A week after losing the US election, President Donald Trump remained shut up in the White House on Tuesday, pushing an alternate reality that he is about to win, while Democrat Joe Biden ignored him and acted like a leader in waiting by taking a string of calls from foreign capitals.
Biden is increasingly moving toward the moment in 71 days when he will take the oath of office.
In his latest exchanges with international leaders, he talked Tuesday with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Ireland’s prime minister, Micheal Martin, and was due to speak with French President Emmanuel Macron later.
But the formal process of Biden’s transition is being blocked by Trump while he attempts to overturn the election results in court on the basis of so far flimsy fraud allegations.
“WE WILL WIN!” the Republican president tweeted early Tuesday. “WATCH FOR MASSIVE BALLOT COUNTING ABUSE.”
Trump’s attempt to hold on to power has become all consuming for the man who often makes a point of publicly mocking rivals as “losers.”
Emphasizing the atmosphere of intransigence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a testy news conference that he was preparing for “a smooth transition to a second Trump administration.”
Since Election Day on November 3, Trump has made few public appearances and seems to have all but shelved normal presidential duties.
His only known activities outside the White House have been to play golf twice over the weekend, after the results came in.
Normally routine secret presidential intelligence briefings have been off the daily schedule. He has made no mention of the dramatic rebound in the Covid-19 pandemic across the country.
And his once near daily press conferences, interviews with Fox News or impromptu question-and-answer sessions with White House journalists have dried up.
In place of that, Trump has spent much of his time tweeting, mostly about what he claims is the stolen election.
Trump’s only significant presidential action has been the abrupt firing of defense secretary Mark Esper on Monday, which he announced on Twitter.
Exactly four years ago Tuesday, Trump had just scored his surprise victory against Hillary Clinton and toured the White House for the first time as a guest of Barack Obama.
That courtesy to a presidents-elect is an old tradition, highlighting the nation’s near sacred respect for the peaceful transfer of power.
Trump has not only failed to invite Biden for a chat in the Oval Office, he is blocking the Democrat from access to facilities, funding and expertise that usually come in a ready made package to help the incoming leader.
Release of this transition aid is controlled by the General Services Administration head Emily Murphy, who was appointed by Trump.
Biden, who won with a record number of votes but acknowledges that nearly half the electorate nevertheless backed Trump, is apparently choosing to ignore the chaos.
Rarely even mentioning Trump, Biden has set up a coronavirus task force and on Tuesday was delivering his latest policy speech — this time on the fate of the Obamacare health care plan which Trump wants the Supreme Court to dismantle.
The latest major foreign leader to reach out with congratulations, ignoring Trump’s claim that he won last Tuesday, was Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who referred to Biden’s “election success.”
Republicans back Trump
Washington is buzzing with speculation over who, if anyone, in Trump’s inner circle will finally persuade him to go.
Former President George W. Bush, the only living Republican ex-president, congratulated Biden on his victory, but he is an outlier in a party dominated by the still hugely popular Trump.
On Monday, the Republican leader in Congress, Senator Mitch McConnell, said Trump was “100 percent within his rights” to challenge the election in court.
None of the lawsuits appears to have the potential to change the result of votes and even a planned recount of Biden’s paper-thin victory in Georgia, or anywhere else, would be unlikely to change the fundamental math.
But Trump added a potential new weapon to his crusade against the results on Monday when his attorney general, Bill Barr, agreed to authorize probes into “specific allegations” of fraud.
Barr added a caveat that “specious, speculative, fanciful or far-fetched claims should not be a basis for initiating federal inquiries.”
However, Barr’s unusual intervention in the dispute prompted worries that Trump will go even further in his efforts. The Justice Department’s top election crimes prosecutor, Richard Pilger, resigned in protest.
President-elect Joe Biden has called for unity and promised “a new day for America” in his first national address since he won the tense US election and ended the era of Donald Trump.
After jogging onto the outdoor stage to the music of Bruce Springsteen in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, Biden delivered a message of hope and healing to a crowd of cheering supporters and tens of millions more on television.
The Democrat’s victory speech followed an election conducted in the midst of a raging coronavirus pandemic. But instead of sounding triumphant, Biden’s accent was more on changing hearts in a country split down the middle between Democrats and Republicans.
Promising “not to divide but unify,” Biden reached out directly to Trump supporters, declaring “they’re not our enemies, they’re Americans.”
“Let’s give each other a chance,” he said, urging the country to “lower the temperature.”
“Let this grim era of demonization in America begin to end, here and now.”
Casting his eye further, Biden said he would “make America respected around the world again” — a reference to Trump’s tearing up of traditional diplomatic ties.
“Tonight, the whole world is watching America and I believe that at our best America is a beacon for the globe,” he said.
Addressing the coronavirus, which has killed more than 237,000 Americans under Trump’s erratic leadership, Biden said he would form a task force of “leading scientists” this Monday.
While attendance was limited for social distancing purposes to about 360 cars at the drive-in style event, crowds numbering thousands of people, many of them dancing and waving American flags, lined the highway leading to the facility.
This was Biden’s first public appearance since US television networks declared earlier Saturday that he’d taken an insurmountable lead in the nearly complete count from Tuesday’s election, giving him victory against Trump, who will now become a rare one-term president.
The celebratory event, which featured confetti, fireworks, and a soundtrack including Springsteen and Tina Turner, also gave Americans a closer look at Biden’s running mate Kamala Harris, who will make history as the country’s first female and first Black vice president.
In her speech, cheered every few seconds by the ecstatic crowd, Harris lauded the record turnout and said that after so much division, “Joe is a healer.”
“When our very democracy was on the ballot in this election, with the very soul of America at stake, and the world watching, you ushered in a new day for America,” she said.
Biden, who turns 78 later this month, will be the oldest person to become president when he takes office on January 20.
No Trump concession
Crowds took to the streets in major cities across the US in celebration of Trump’s defeat, while key Western allies such as Germany, which had a tempestuous relationship with the Republican, quickly congratulated Biden.
But Trump — becoming the first one-term president since George H. W. Bush — refused to concede and continued to claim he was a victim of fraud.
Biden was “rushing to falsely pose” as the winner, Trump said in a statement as he arrived to play golf at a course he owns in Virginia, his first trip outside the White House since Election Day.
There is no evidence to support Trump’s unprecedented claims of mass fraud.
Tuesday’s polling went off without any reported serious incidents or even technical glitches, despite the shadow of a still out-of-control Covid-19 pandemic and volcanic political tensions.
With vote-counting nearly complete around the huge country, Biden built up an irreversible lead.
New tallies from the state of Pennsylvania early Saturday put him over the top, ending four days of tense waiting and allowing the TV networks’ specialized data analysts to call the overall result, as they do every election.
In Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Washington, and other majority-Democratic cities, people poured into the streets to celebrate, and car horns honked.
An excited crowd of several thousand gathered on Black Lives Matter Plaza next to the White House, giving a hostile reception to Trump as his motorcade passed nearby on return from the golf course.
“It’s been so many years waiting for this day to happen,” said Jack Nugent, a 24-year-old software engineer.
There were similar scenes in New York, Trump’s birthplace.
However, in Arizona, where the race was close, a group of almost 1,000 Trump supporters gathered in Phoenix to protest what they said was a stolen election.
“There’s a lot of fraud here. It needs to be either redone totally or recounted,” Donna McCollum, 77, said.
Western allies send congrats
For Biden, who got more than 74 million votes, a record, the triumph was the crowning achievement of his half-century in US politics — including eight years as deputy to Obama, the first Black US president who hailed the “historic and decisive” win.
Biden has vowed to get the coronavirus pandemic under control. He has also promised to restore traditional US diplomacy after Trump’s dramatic pivot to unilateral nationalism.
The leaders of Britain, Germany, France, and other European countries were the first, along with Canada, to send congratulations.
Japan’s Prime Minister, Yoshihide Suga sent “warm congratulations,” while India’s Premier Narendra Modi also tweeted on Biden’s “spectacular victory.”
The head of the NATO military alliance, which reeled from Trump’s disruptive approach after decades of US leadership, also quickly welcomed Biden’s win.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Biden’s victory was a chance for the US to “compensate for its previous mistakes and return to the path of adherence to international commitments”.
Israel’s leader Benjamin Netanyahu — a close Trump ally — congratulated Biden, calling the president-elect “a great friend of Israel”.
There was no immediate reaction from other major nations, including China, Russia, and Saudi Arabia.
Donald Trump, refusing to concede defeat in the US presidential election, said Saturday that Joe Biden was “rushing to falsely pose as the winner” after television networks declared the Democrat’s victory.
“We all know why Joe Biden is rushing to falsely pose as the winner, and why his media allies are trying so hard to help him: they don’t want the truth to be exposed,” Trump said.
“The simple fact is this election is far from over.”
Trump underlined that states had not yet certified the results, and his campaign has launched multiple “legitimate legal challenges that could determine the ultimate victor.”
However, near-complete results issued by each state showed an insurmountable lead for Biden, allowing news networks to call the overall result, as they do every election.
With networks calling pivotal Pennsylvania and then Nevada for Biden on Saturday, he is now projected to win at least 279 electoral votes, surpassing the magic number of 270 needed to win in America’s Electoral College system that formally chooses the president.
Trump claimed that in Pennsylvania, Republican poll observers were not permitted “meaningful access to watch the counting process.”
“Only a party engaged in wrongdoing would unlawfully keep observers out of the count room — and then fight in court to block their access,” Trump added.
The president’s defiant statement landed as he arrived at a golf course he owns in Virginia, in his first trip outside the White House since Election Day on Tuesday.
His lawyer Rudy Giuliani was in Philadelphia on Saturday where he said Trump would keep pressing the case to have such complaints — particularly in key battleground Pennsylvania — addressed by US courts.
“Obviously he’s not going to concede when at least 600,000 ballots are in question,” Giuliani told reporters.
Asked for specific evidence of fraudulent ballots, Giuliani provided none. “How can I possibly tell you there’s fraud or no fraud?” he said, although he pointed repeatedly to observers being denied sufficient access to observe ballot counting in Philadelphia.
“They kept our inspectors away.”
No evidence of election malfeasance has emerged, although complaints have been filed in multiple states, particularly about insufficient access to observing the vote counts.
Several congressional Republicans stood firmly behind the president, including Senator Lindsey Graham who insisted that “credible allegations of voting irregularities and misconduct” be taken seriously and investigated, not “swept under the rug.”
“Election outcomes are not determined by media outlets but certified, accurate vote counts,” he said, adding that “officials in Pennsylvania should take allegations… seriously before certifying a final outcome.”
Biden is scheduled to address the nation at 8:00 pm Saturday (0100 GMT).
Popular American preacher and chair of the evangelical advisory board in Donald Trump’s administration Paula White-Cain on Wednesday lead prayers for Trump’s victory in US election.
During the prayer session which was held at the City of Destiny, White-Cain claimed that demonic people are working at high level with demonic plans in the election.
She, however, prayed for victory for her principal.
“You will give us victory, God. I hear the sound of an abundance of rain. I hear the sound of victory. I hear the sound of shouting and singing. I hear a sound of victory. The Lord says it is done. I hear victory! Victory! Victory!” White-Cain said.
She also called for ‘angelic reinforcement’ from Africa and South America to give Donald Trump victory.
“Angels are being released right now. Angels are being dispatched right now. From Africa, from South America. Angelic reinforcement,” she said.
Meanwhile, Democratic’s Joe Biden leads the race as the contest for the White House tightens in the Battleground States.
By flipping the northern battlegrounds of Michigan and Wisconsin, Biden reached 264 electoral votes against 214 so far for Trump and votes continue to be counted.