US election 2020: Trump ally Chris Christie urges him to accept defeat

Image source, AFP/Getty Images
Image caption,
Chris Christie (right) is a longtime ally of President Trump

A prominent ally of Donald Trump has urged him to drop his efforts to overturn his loss to Joe Biden in the US presidential election.

Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie called the president's legal team a "national embarrassment".

President Trump has refused to concede the election, making unsubstantiated claims of widespread electoral fraud.

Many Republicans have supported his legal efforts, although a small but growing number have broken ranks.

Voting in the US election ended on 3 November. Mr Biden is projected to beat President Trump by 306 votes to 232 in the US electoral college when it meets to formally confirm the winner on 14 December. This is far above the 270 votes he needs.

Mr Biden is set to become president at an inauguration ceremony on 20 January. He is expected to name his first cabinet appointments on Tuesday, with long-time foreign policy adviser Antony Blinken reportedly set to become his secretary of state.

Speaking to ABC's This Week programme on Sunday, Mr Christie, a former New Jersey governor, said: "Quite frankly, the conduct of the president's legal team has been a national embarrassment."

He said the Trump camp was often discussing election fraud "outside the courtroom, but when they go inside the courtroom they don't plead fraud and they don't argue fraud".

"I have been a supporter of the president's. I voted for him twice. But elections have consequences, and we cannot continue to act as if something happened here that didn't happen."

Media caption,
How other incumbents left the White House after losing

Mr Trump's latest legal setback came on Saturday when a judge dismissed his attempt to have millions of postal votes in Pennsylvania invalidated.

In a scathing ruling, Judge Matthew Brann said his court had been presented with "strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations".

The move paves the way for Pennsylvania to certify Mr Biden's win on Monday. However, the Trump campaign is appealing against the ruling.

Image source, EPA
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Sidney Powell made unsubstantiated claims at a news conference by Trump's legal team on Thursday

Mr Christie was the first governor to endorse Mr Trump as a presidential candidate back in 2016. He also helped prepare the US president for his debates with Mr Biden earlier this year.

He singled out for criticism Sidney Powell, a lawyer who appeared with Mr Trump's legal team during a press conference on Thursday. She claimed, without providing evidence, that electronic voting systems switched millions of ballots to Mr Biden, and that he also won thanks to "communist money".

But on Sunday the Trump campaign issued a statement distancing themselves from Ms Powell, saying she "is practising law on her own" and was "not a member of the Trump legal team".

A tweet from President Trump earlier this month explicitly named her as part of the team.

On Sunday other Republicans also urged President Trump to concede.

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan told CNN on Sunday that the Trump camp's continued efforts to overturn the election results were "beginning to look like we're a banana republic".

Media caption,
"The campaign, which I won, by the way": Trump falsely claims election win

Michigan Representative Fred Upton told CNN the voters in his battleground state "spoke" by choosing Mr Biden, while North Dakota Senator Kevin Cramer said in an interview to NBC it was "past time to start a transition", although he stopped short of accepting Mr Biden's victory.

What has the Biden camp been up to?

Joe Biden has been pressing on with plans for office, despite President Trump's refusal to concede complicating the transition process.

Ron Klain, Mr Biden's choice as White House chief-of-staff, again urged the Trump administration to kick-start the handover.

"A record number of Americans rejected the Trump presidency, and since then Donald Trump's been rejecting democracy," he told ABC News.

Media caption,
How to move on after the US election

He also revealed that the Biden campaign was preparing for a "scaled-down" inauguration on 20 January due to the worsening coronavirus outbreak.

Who is Antony Blinken?

US media say the veteran 58-year-old diplomat is set for the most important foreign policy position in the administration.

Mr Blinken is a long-time aide to the president-elect. He was deputy secretary of state and deputy national security adviser during the Obama administration, in which Mr Biden was vice-president.

Image source, Reuters

Meanwhile, US media say Mr Biden is set to name another long-time diplomat, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, as US ambassador to the UN. She also served under President Obama, including as assistant secretary of state for African affairs between 2013 and 2017.

Jake Sullivan, formerly a top aide to Hillary Clinton, President Obama and Mr Biden, is reportedly the leading candidate to become national security adviser.

Last week Mr Biden said he had also decided whom to nominate to lead the Treasury department.