Former President Donald Trump appeared "embarrassed" and privately recognized his 2020 election loss before declaring that he would refuse to leave the White House, according to an upcoming book by New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman.
"I'm just not going to leave," Trump told an aide, according to an excerpt of Haberman's book "Confidence Man" published by CNN.
"We're never leaving," Trump told another aide. "How can you leave when you won an election?"
The book could provide additional evidence for the Justice Department and the House Jan. 6 panel, which has detailed evidence that Trump was aware that he lost when he sought to steal the election ahead of the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
Trump in the immediate aftermath of the election "seemed to recognize" that he lost to Biden, according to the CNN excerpt, and asked advisers "what had gone wrong."
"We did our best," a seemingly "almost embarrassed" Trump told junior press aides, according to Haberman. "I thought we had it."
Trump's mood ultimately abruptly changed and he vowed to refuse to leave, which Haberman wrote was reminiscent of his efforts to claw back from deep financial struggles three decades earlier. But Trump could not decide which path to follow, according to the book, and quizzed "nearly everyone" on which options he should pursue, including the valet that brought him Diet Cokes in the Oval Office anytime Trump pushed a red button at his desk.
"Why should I leave if they stole it from me?" he asked Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, according to the book.
The debunked suggestion that the election was somehow "stolen" was pushed by a number of Trump allies, including former national security adviser Michael Flynn, attorney Sidney Powell, and, for some reason, former Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne, who helped fund efforts to investigate baseless claims of election fraud, as has MyPillow founder Mike Lindell. Flynn, Powell and Byrne met with Trump and his lawyers in a bizarre December 2020 Oval Office meeting to push false claims of "foreign interference" and election rigging. Trump planned to appoint Powell, who pushed baseless claims that voting machines "flipped" votes from Trump to President Joe Biden, as a special counsel to investigate his loss but ultimately scrapped the plan.
Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, who served as his top adviser, was "reluctant" to confront Trump about his election claims, according to the book. He urged a group of aides to brief Trump at the White House but did not go himself, comparing it to a deathbed scene.
"The priest comes later," Kushner said, according to the book.
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Former federal prosecutor Joyce White Vance wrote that the book includes "important evidence" that Trump knew he lost the election ahead of the Capitol riot even as he continued to push the "Big Lie."
"Evidence Trump acknowledged his loss would be essential to a prosecution for election-related crimes," she wrote.
Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J., called out Republicans for backing a leader who acts like a "dictator."
"Trump wanted to occupy the White House as a dictator, sent a violent mob to overthrown democracy," he wrote on Twitter, "and nearly every [R]epublican in office supports him."
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