White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said Friday that the Trump administration is operating as if it will extend into a second term, attempting to stiff-arm the reality of last week’s election and dismissing talk that the incoming Biden administration might unwind many of President Donald Trump’s policies.
“We are moving forward here at the White House under the assumption there will be a second Trump term,” Navarro said on Fox Business, echoing a refrain from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the president’s most steadfast allies. Those remarks represent a sharp departure from the electoral reality that President-elect Joe Biden was the victor in last week’s presidential election, claiming at least 290 electoral votes and winning the popular vote by more than 5 million votes.
The president has refused to concede to Biden and his administration has rejected any appearance of assisting with the transfer of power while Trump’s campaign pursues a portfolio of legal challenges in a last-ditch attempt to save the president’s reelection.
“Until we do that, our assumption is a second Trump term,” Navarro said. “Any speculation about what Joe Biden might do, I think, is moot at this point.”
Navarro’s comments came in response to a question about whether a forthcoming Biden administration would reverse an executive order Trump signed Thursday prohibiting Americans from investing in a group of Chinese companies that the White House said has ties to the People’s Liberation Army.
Navarro also amplified Trump’s assaults on the integrity of the democratic process after the president’s election night lead in battleground states evaporated as more votes were counted.
“We have what appears, in some sense, to be an immaculate deception” the White House trade adviser said of the legal vote-counting process.
The president has been largely out of public view since Election Day, save for glimpses of Trump from last weekend’s golf trip to his private Virginia club. He briefly attended a Veterans Day ceremony Wednesday at Arlington National Cemetery but did not speak at the event.
And aside from frequent Twitter missives, the president last addressed the public at a fiery White House press conference on Thursday where he took no questions, repeated his attacks on the U.S. electoral system and his unfounded claims of rampant voter fraud.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Thursday did not give a timeline for when the president’s postelection public appearances will pick up but said the country will “be hearing from him at the right moment.”
Trump’s defeat threatens to overshadow Republicans otherwise strong Election Day performance, forcing the GOP to contort itself to rationalize why its downballot victories were on the level while allowing Trump and others to claim the presidential race was not.
There have been some signs that parts of the party are ready to move on. The editorial page of conservative megadonor Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Review-Journal urged Trump to drop his conspiratorial rhetoric and begin cooperating with Biden’s transition while the legal challenges play out. And some Republican senators are demanding that the White House extend intelligence briefings to Biden and his team.