- Trump on Sunday tweeted that "he [Biden] won because the Election was Rigged."
- Many saw the message — the first time Trump described Biden as the election's winner in any form — as a concession of sorts.
- But the president later tweeted that he was not conceding, and allies claimed he had been commenting on what the media was saying about the election, or speaking sarcastically.
- Trump has refused to concede and stirred baseless claims of election fraud since losing the presidential election more than a week ago.
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President Donald Trump and allies on Sunday spent the day back-peddling on a tweet in which the president for the first time appeared to admit that President-elect Joe Biden won the election.
Trump had refused to concede defeat in the presidential election, which was called for Biden by Insider and most major news organizations more than a week ago.
He had continued to circulate baseless claims of election fraud on Twitter, while making significantly more limited claims of wrongdoing in the courts.
On Sunday it seemed that Trump had for the first time acknowledged his loss, when he tweeted that "he [Biden] won because the Election was Rigged."
Though he may have meant the emphasis to again fall on his baseless allegations of election misconduct, attention instead fell on what some saw as a very grudging concession.
Commentators hailed the message as evidence that the president was beginning to acknowledge the election result, even as he continued to groundlessly dispute its legitimacy.
It seemed to build on comments Trump made Friday at the White House when he commented that "time will tell" who will be the next president.
In response to claims he had conceded, Trump attempted to undo the impression he had just created, tweeting "I concede NOTHING! We have a long way to go."
Allies then offered various explanations for what Trump really meant.
In a statement to Bloomberg, Trump campaign advisor Jason Miller said the tweet had "was referring to the mindset of the media."
And in an interview on Fox News later, Rudy Giuliani, who is spearheading Trump's legal challenge against election results in several swing states, claimed the president had been speaking sarcastically.
"What he's saying is more, I guess you'd call it sarcastic or a comment on the terrible times in which we live, in which the media has said he won," said Giuliani.
In private, top aides to the president have conceded that Trump's prospects of overturning the election result are small. Some have speculated that Trump's real motive in disputing the election result is to keep his core supporters motivated as he contemplates a 2024 election run or forming his own media empire.
On Saturday, Trump in tweets cheered on supporters and members of far-right groups who gathered in Washington DC to back his vote fraud accusations.
Trump's legal challenges against election results have so far fared poorly, with the Trump campaign seeing a series of lawsuits thrown out after attorneys failed to produce evidence of ballot fraud. On Sunday, the Trump campaign dropped a series of allegations in a lawsuit its pursuing in Pennsylvania.
Biden has continued to appoint officials to his administration and shape his plans for when he is due to take office on January 20.
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