'Numbers don't lie:' Walls close in on defiant Trump

A defiant Donald Trump again falsely insisted he "won" reelection in his first public appearance for a week Friday, November 20, as the US president appeared increasingly isolated over his long-shot bid to stay in power.

Claiming against all odds that a path to victory remains viable, and facing pushback from fellow Republicans alarmed by his effort to overturn results, Trump invited Michigan lawmakers to the White House Friday as part of a bid to subvert the will of voters in key states.

In what has become a rare appearance before reporters since November 3, the 74-year-old leader was announcing new pharmaceutical pricing plans when he diverted to the election.

"Big pharma ran million dollars of negative advertisements against me during the campaign – which I won, by the way, but you know, we'll find that out," Trump said.

He exited the briefing room without taking questions.

Logic dictates that Trump's days in the White House are numbered, with key states that sealed President-elect Biden's win rapidly approaching deadlines to certify their election results.

Georgia on Friday became the first of them to formally certify its results, affirming that Biden won in the southern state by 12,670 votes, or 0.26 percent, a bitter blow to Trump's efforts to block the count.

"Numbers don't lie," said Brad Raffensperger, the Republican secretary of state in Georgia. "The numbers reflect the verdict of the people."

Trump has been waging a last-ditch effort to throw out ballots in counties that voted heavily Democratic, force recounts and otherwise delay the process of finalizing state results before the Electoral College votes to confirm the next president on December 14.

In the latest in a series of presidential interventions not seen in modern US politics, he had earlier insisted on Twitter that if Georgia let him "expose hundreds of thousands of illegal ballots," it would give him "a BIG VICTORY" in the state.

The president spent most of the day hunkered down in the White House, fuming about the "Rigged Election" and retweeting conservative personalities – including a QAnon conspiracy supporter – arguing that his rival's victory was fraudulent.

Retiring Senator Lamar Alexander became the latest Republican lawmaker seeking to nudge Trump into triggering a formal transition process.

Biden "has a very good chance" of becoming the next president, Alexander said, and should be afforded "all" resources necessary for a smooth transfer of power.

'Irresponsible'

Despite Trump's election denial, Biden is fully preparing to take over on January 20.

On Friday – his 78th birthday – Biden huddled in Wilmington, Delaware with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, the top Democrats in Congress, telling them there is "a lot of work to do."

Meanwhile at the White House, Trump took the unprecedented step of hosting legislative leaders from Michigan, where he seeks to block the state from certifying the results which handed Biden a 155,000-vote victory.

The move infuriated state Democrats, with Congresswoman Debbie Dingell accusing the Republican lawmakers of trying "to subvert our democracy."

Republican Senator Mitt Romney launched a withering attack on Trump for pressuring local officials, saying: "It is difficult to imagine a worse, more undemocratic action by a sitting American president."

Republican senators Ben Sasse and Joni Ernst also slammed the tactics.

Trump's legal team fights on, however.

Rudy Giuliani and other lawyers hosted a conspiracy-laden press conference Thursday peddling unsupported allegations that Democratic "crooks" committed widespread fraud to deny Trump reelection.

'Last line of defense'

Georgia's certification delivered a blow to Trump, making it the first time a Democratic presidential candidate has carried the southern state since 1992.

Nevertheless Vice President Mike Pence took Trump's message of defiance to Georgia as he campaigned with two Republicans whose runoff elections January 5 will determine which party controls the Senate next year.

"We're going to keep fighting until every legal vote is counted. We're going to keep fighting until every illegal vote is thrown out," Pence told a crowd in Canton.

"And whatever the outcome, we will never stop fighting to make America great again," he added, to chants of "four more years!"

More than two weeks after the election, a Pew Research poll shows Americans approve of Biden's conduct far more than Trump's.

Sixty-two percent said Biden's conduct since November 3 has been excellent or good, compared to just 31% who said the same of Trump. – Rappler.com