US Election: Trump exploded in anger when Fox News projected Biden as Arizona winner - insiders

Outgoing President Donald Trump exploded in a fit of rage when Fox News projected that Democratic rival Joe Biden had flipped the battleground state of Arizona, according to a behind-the-scenes account of the landmark election night.

The business magnate was outraged when Fox News - a conservative channel typically regarded as the President's closest media ally - declared that Biden was set to secure the swing state, according to a report by The Washington Post.

"He was yelling at everyone," an anonymous senior administration official told the outlet. "He was like, 'what the hell? We were supposed to be winning Arizona. What's going on?'"

The President, sequestered inside the White House with top aides including son-in-law and advisor Jared Kushner and campaign manager Bill Stepien, instructed Kushner to call News Corp executive chairman and media mogul Rupert Murdoch immediately, according to the official. However, attempts to persuade Fox to retract their prediction were unsuccessful.

President-elect Biden clinched Arizona's 11 Electoral College votes by a razor-thin margin, leading Trump by 49.4 to 49.1 percent - and becoming the first Democrat to flip the state since 1992. 

The loss of Arizona posed a serious impediment to Trump's pathway to victory and was a crucial win for Biden, putting him within striking distance of the 270 electoral votes required to secure the presidency.

Although Fox News and the Associated Press projected Biden as triumphant, other major media organisations held off on calling the race as incoming mail ballots appeared to favour the incumbent Republican. 

President-elect Biden was projected as the winner of Arizona by several media outlets, including conservative network Fox News - a call that sparked a fiery reaction from Trump.
President-elect Biden was projected as the winner of Arizona by several media outlets, including conservative network Fox News - a call that sparked a fiery reaction from Trump. Photo credit: Reuters

Early on election night, Trump and his team were convinced his administration would secure a second term - despite the majority of polls predicting that Biden would prove victorious. They believed a repeat of the 2016 election would unfold, The Washington Post reports, and Trump would defy predictions by building an unassailable lead. However, late counts of mail-in ballots in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and other battleground states erased Trump's early leads, propelling his Democratic rival to victory.

With Biden sitting on 306 electoral votes - and Trump languishing behind on 232 - the President has continued to maintain baseless allegations that ballot fraud rigged the election. In the days following November 3, his campaign promised to take legal action in a number of states - however a slew of challenges have already been rejected.

Last week, Trump reluctantly agreed to initiate a peaceful transfer of power by allowing the federal government to officially commence Biden's transition, but maintained he was still the true winner. 

On Sunday (local time), Trump reiterated that he will continue to fight the results, telling Fox News in a telephone interview: "My mind will not change in six months."

However, he also admitted that it will be "hard" to get his election fraud allegations heard before the US Supreme Court.

In a tweet on Saturday (local time), Trump continued to wage war against Fox News, describing the network as "virtually unwatchable".

Arizona's results are set to be certified on Monday (local time).