In his first public remarks since officially losing the 2020 presidential election to Joe Biden, President Donald Trump notably did not concede the race. But at one point he did come closer than he has so far to acknowledging that there will be a new president starting Jan. 20th.
Delivering an update on the COVID-19 vaccine from the White House Rose Garden on Friday afternoon, a conspicuously white-haired Trump started ranting against the effectiveness of “lockdowns” when he said, “Ideally we won’t go to a lockdown.“ Catching himself, he continued, “I will not go, this administration will not be going to a lockdown.”
“Hopefully, the, uh, whatever happens in the future, who knows which administration will be, I guess time will tell,” he added tentatively, “but I can tell you this administration will not go to a lockdown.”
Following Trump’s remarks, CNN’s Jake Tapper said, “This is the closest he has publicly gotten to recognizing that Joe Biden is the president-elect and will be taking office on January 20th. Not there yet, I’m not giving him any credit for being within the realm of the solar system instead of on planet Earth, but it was the closest thing we’ve heard.”
Trump also threatened to withhold sending a vaccine to “places like New York state where, for political reasons, the governor decided to say—and I don’t think it’s good politically—I think it’s very bad from a health standpoint, he wants to take his time on the vaccine.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo shot back that seven states had only set up independent review panels because Trump had politicized a vaccine to the point where Americans weren’t sure if it would be safe.
New York’s panel is headed by a Nobel Prize laureate who will review the FDA process and assure New Yorkers that the vaccine is safe.
“Everything is personal with this president,” he said on MSNBC just after the press conference. “There can’t be a disagreement on principal and he retaliates, he uses the government as a retaliatory tool.”
Cuomo cited polls that showed an “overwhelming percentage of Americans” are worried about political interference in the vaccination and approvals process.
He said that, while he didn’t have confidence in the Trump administration’s ability to distribute a vaccine before January, “as soon as Trump delivers me a dose I will be ready to administer it.”
New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement late Friday that she would sue the Trump administration if it miraculously had a vaccine ready to go before Joe Biden took over, and withheld it from New York.
“This is nothing more than vindictive behavior by a lame-duck president trying to extract vengeance on those who opposed his politics,” she said.
Aside from a brief Veterans Day visit to Arlington National Cemetery during which he made no remarks, Trump had not been seen or heard from since every major news outlet called the race for Biden last Saturday. Instead, the president spent the past week tweeting baseless conspiracy theories about “voter fraud” and attacks on Fox News for not fully supporting his delusions.