President Donald Trump repeated allegations of widespread US electoral voting fraud on Sunday and was poised to launch new legal cases this week, even as rival Joe Biden was widely accepted as president-elect at home and abroad.
In a Sunday morning tweetstorm, Mr Trump bashed "systemic problems", “voter fraud” and a worrisome “hundred million mail-in” ballots from Philadelphia in Tuesday’s election, citing a prominent legal analyst and others.
Meanwhile, the president is raising cash for an “election defence fund” to fight legal battles that will struggle to overturn Mr Biden’s significant vote margins in battleground states. Reports of confusion and an embattled and crestfallen Mr Trump emerged from the White House.
In a tweet on Saturday, Mr Trump, a Republican, said his 71 million tally of “legal votes” was “The most EVER for a sitting President!” — though he did not mention the 75 million votes that went to his Democratic challenger Mr Biden.
The president was playing golf on Saturday, when election results from Pennsylvania pushed Mr Biden above the 270 electoral college threshold to make him the projected president-elect. In a televised address, Mr Biden pledged to “heal” a fractured America.
As Mr Biden's win was announced by all major US media outlets and as congratulatory messages flowed in from overseas, Mr Trump released a statement saying his rival was "rushing to falsely pose as the winner".
“The simple fact is this election is far from over,” said the president.
“Beginning Monday, our campaign will start prosecuting our case in court to ensure election laws are fully upheld and the rightful winner is seated.”
The president complained that observers were denied entry to Pennsylvanian counting centres and that an unspecified number of ballots were “fraudulent, manufactured, or cast by ineligible or deceased voters”.
Officials in Georgia have said there will be a recount in the state, where Mr Biden currently leads by some 10,000 votes. Election analysts say recounts typically result in changes of a few hundred votes — but not by thousands.
As of Sunday morning, Mr Biden’s margins were wider still in such other battlegrounds as Arizona (an 18,600-vote lead) and Nevada (27,500), the two remaining states with significant numbers of ballots yet to be counted.
Mr Trump’s lawyers have not presented evidence of widespread voting fraud. Claims of irregularities in some states relate only to handfuls of ballots — not the tens of thousands of bogus Democratic votes necessary to swing the outcome.
The president’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, a former New York mayor, held a rambling press conference at a landscaping firm in Philadelphia on Saturday, describing “suspicious” ballots but offering no hard evidence of fraud.
Mr Trump’s children stuck by their father, with Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr echoing claims of foul play on social media. White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told reporters that the president “intends to fight”.
The Associated Press spoke to several West Wing insiders who indicated Mr Trump would never formally concede the election, but would likely vacate the White House when his term expires in January.
Mr Trump’s allies have suggested the president may launch a media empire or host a television news show to maintain his huge base of die-hard supporters and possibly run for the presidency again in 2024.
His longtime friend and adviser Roger Stone, whom Mr Trump recently pardoned, told AP that Mr Biden would have a “cloud over his presidency with half the people in the country believing that he was illegitimately elected.”