Advisers to outgoing President Donald Trump have privately expressed pessimism regarding his ongoing bid to intercept Democratic successor Joe Biden's pathway to power, according to reports.
The campaign to the lame-duck President is continuing to press ahead with legal action in several swing states, touting unfounded allegations that voter fraud corrupted the results in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. Trump has repeatedly dubbed mail-in balloting - a preferred option amid the United States' ongoing COVID-19 epidemic - a fraudulent method, without credible evidence to substantiate his claims.
Yet while Trump continues to proclaim himself the true victor of the November 3 election, his advisers are privately acknowledging that President-elect Joe Biden's official victory is imminent, despite the incumbent's refusal to concede defeat.
As reported by the Washington Post, aides to the President - including White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and informal adviser Corey Lewandowski - have expressed doubt behind closed doors over the success of last-ditch lawsuits filed by the Trump campaign, admitting that the possibility of success is slim unless more evidence comes to light.
A person with knowledge of discussions between Trump and his advisers on Wednesday morning (NZ time) revealed to the Washington Post that Trump intends to keep fighting the results of the election - but knows the battle will be difficult.
"He is all over the place. It changes from hour to hour," the person told the outlet.
On Saturday (local time), Biden was declared President-elect of the United States by major media outlets after the Democratic candidate secured the crucial battleground state of Pennsylvania, adding its 20 electoral votes to his tally and surpassing the 270 threshold required to clinch the presidency.
Trump is languishing behind on 217, adding three additional electoral votes to his total after taking out Alaska on Wednesday (local time). The race for the state was called by the Associated Press after 75 percent of the votes were counted, with Trump leading Biden by 57 to 39 percent. North Carolina and Georgia, a Republican stronghold which Biden currently leads by a razor-thin margin of 0.3 percent, are yet to be called, while Arizona remains contested.
Numerous electoral officials and legal scholars have said there is little Trump can do to stop his Democratic rival from snatching the reins of power, noting that although a candidate is within their right to challenge the results and pursue ballot recounts, the actions rely on sufficient evidence of irregularities and wrongdoing - proof the Trump campaign has yet to present.
It appears Republican senators and officials are somewhat divided over the President's continued efforts to discredit and dismiss the results as "rigged" and "stolen". One Republican official in Georgia has openly said there is "no evidence" of widespread voter fraud, while 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has publicly lambasted the President as the "900lb gorilla" of the party.
In a statement, former Republican President George W Bush, who held office from 2001 to 2009, said Americans can have confidence the US election was "fundamentally fair, its integrity will be upheld, and its outcome is clear".
"Though we have political differences I know Joe Biden to be a good man, who has won his opportunity to lead and unify our country," Bush said.
Yet others are sticking by their leader, with high-profile Senator Lindsey Graham calling for the President to "fight hard" against the results - marred by the "wild, wild west" of mail-in balloting - while chief diplomat, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, declared there would be a "smooth transition" to a second term under the Trump administration.
It was reported on Wednesday (NZ time) that the White House budget office has instructed federal agencies to continue preparing the Trump administration's budget proposal for the 2022 financial year. The budget proposal is usually issued in February - at least two weeks after Biden's inauguration on January 20 and Trump's departure from the White House.
Proceeding with Trump's budget has rankled and surprised staffers, according to local media, with the incoming Biden administration expected to submit its budget plan to Congress early in 2021.