President Donald Trump had tweeted on Sunday morning about Joe Biden winning because the election was rigged, then international media started claiming that Trump had accepted defeat.
Trump has refused to concede the November 3 US election to challenger Joe Biden, and repeatedly said he intends to overturn the result through legal cases.
His aides say he is preparing for a second term in office despite the vote count confirming Biden’s clear victory.
“He won because the Election was Rigged,” Trump tweeted early Sunday.
The phrasing — coming two days after a slip in which he said “time will tell” if he remains president — was immediately seized upon as one more step towards admitting defeat.
But the president soon followed up with a sharp U-turn, tweeting “He only won in the eyes of the FAKE NEWS MEDIA. I concede NOTHING! We have a long way to go.”
Trump later wrote on Facebook, saying “I WON THE ELECTION!”.
Thousands of Trump supporters rallied in Washington on Saturday, backing his claims of fraud, with clashes erupting in the evening with rival protesters.
At least 20 people were arrested, reports said, including four for firearm violations and one for assault on a police officer.
Trump himself made a drive-past of the rally in his armored motorcade, on his way to play golf, smiling through his limousine window to wild cheers and signs saying “Best prez ever” and “Trump 2020: Keep America Great.”
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