SEVENTEEN YEARS AGO, as a contestant, I sat in a made-for-TV boardroom in Trump Tower with Donald Trump, who at the time was the host of NBC’s hit reality show The Apprentice.
We were in between taping scenes, and Donald started lecturing another contestant who had threatened to quit the show because he did not think it was fair. Donald laid into the guy: “Never quit! Never ever quit! It’s the lowest of the low, and you will forever be known as a loser.”
Fast forward to the present day, and we find President Donald Trump in a precarious position. At the time of publication, there are just two months until Inauguration Day, and the president has an important decision to make regarding his electoral defeat, a decision made even more difficult by the fact that in his reelection bid, he received more votes than any Republican presidential candidate in the history of this country.
Trump and his 70 million supporters openly wonder why that was not enough to secure a second term.
Currently trailing Vice President Biden by millions of votes, Trump is under immense pressure from both sides of the political aisle (and members of his inner circle) to concede and to accept the results of the election.
Donald Trump, true to form, has refused to do so, tweeting “RIGGED ELECTION!” “STOP THE COUNT!” and “I WON THE ELECTION!” from his golf course.
Many have asked me why Trump continues to prolong the inevitable and not follow a long-standing tradition of conceding when the race has been called.
My answer is plain and simple: Trump equates conceding with quitting, and quitting is losing. And the Donald Trump that I know does not want to be known as a loser.
In 2016, I was on stage with him immediately after he was declared the projected winner of the presidential election, and he was gracious in his remarks that evening. In 2020, however, I am witnessing Donald go down as the biggest loser, something that he has tried to avoid at all costs.
Donald Trump has an allergic reaction to the perception of losing, at anything, and thus having to endure the moniker of “loser.” As with many things in his life, it isn’t a matter of reality but more a matter of perception. He has lost many times in his life, but perceptually, he has found a way to persevere through a strict regimen of psychological self-culture to still see himself as a winner. It is well documented that he has had numerous business failures with some requiring the utilization of bankruptcy protections. But Donald, in turn, found a way to interpret those failures as shrewd decisions based on his high business acumen. Losing the presidential election, however, does not provide this type of obfuscation or cover. There is no amount of Trump spin that can separate this reality from perception.
On election night 2020, I sat in a broadcast booth situated directly across from the White House as a correspondent for SkyNews, a British TV news channel. As the results trickled in, it seemed likely that President Trump would win a second term and possibly keep control of the Senate. But as the night progressed, it became apparent, as Biden picked up momentum in key states, their red mirage had dissolved.
On election night in 2016, I watched the returns come in state-by-state with members of the Trump Campaign in the massive war room set up in our campaign offices in Trump Tower in New York City. When I met with Donald earlier that afternoon, he was stoic, and he remained stone faced as the votes came in. The results were very decisive in some of the key battleground states like Florida and Ohio, and the race was called shortly after midnight for Donald Trump. The world was shocked. At one point Donald excitedly turned to me and said, “Omarosa you are coming with me to Washington.” And that I did.
A few days later Trump was on his plane to Washington, D.C. to meet with President Obama. The world was captivated. The campaign watched from the TVs in our war room back in New York as the Obamas welcomed the Trumps to the White House. A week later the entire Trump Transition team was granted access to the offices and resources that come with the presidential transition.
The likelihood of that type of warm welcome from the Trumps to the Bidens is certainly a long shot. Trump has pledged that he would not acknowledge the president-elect, and he has been quoted referring to Biden as “Phony Joe.”
This brings us back to the question at hand. How will all of this end?
There are barely two months left between now and Inauguration Day. Traditionally, this is the time that the incoming team would move into the transition offices provided by General Services Administration (GSA) to begin filling 4,000 government vacancies and preparing for confirmation hearings for all of the newly appointed cabinet members. As a member of President Trump’s Transition Team and Executive Committee, we had to move quickly. The work required long days and sleepless nights. After all, we were taking over for the Obama administration and only had two months to do it. This is one of the bedrocks of our democracy, the peaceful transfer of power.
However, the current Trump-appointed head of GSA has refused to grant the Biden team access to government buildings and resources. Additionally, Trump has given directives to his entire administration to not cooperate with the Biden team in any way.
President Trump is focusing the remainder of his term on litigation. He has activated his massive legal team to file lawsuits alleging voter fraud in the five states including Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin and Arizona. Most of the cases are being thrown out immediately, but that has not discouraged Donald.
The Trump campaign released a statement from him emphasizing, “I will not rest until the American people have the honest vote count they deserve and that democracy demands.”
The Constitution is clear. Each state determines when its residents vote and when and how they tally the results. Thus far, each state has come out to stand by its processes, which strive to provide transparency and accuracy. The more President Trump delays his acceptance of the results and the transition process, the more our democracy suffers.
As the outgoing president continues to tweet and lament his current situation, it is rumored that he will launch a Trump TV network and will continue to hold his signature campaign rallies. Yes, even in the midst of all of this chaos, he is focused on galvanizing his base in order to feed his ego. He is aggrieved. He sees himself as a victim, particularly of the “fake news media” for calling the election for Joe Biden. Sadly, the more he delays conceding, the more vulnerable our country becomes.
In mid-December, the Electoral College will meet to formally cast their votes for president and vice president. It is at this meeting that I foresee Donald Trump psychologically accepting his fate and acknowledging he has no alternative but to accept the results. With less than two months left in his term, I expect Trump will focus on pardons and last-minute deals for his loyalists.
What started as a made-for-TV political rise to power may end with Donald Trump forever being known as the biggest loser.
Omarosa Manigault Newman is the founder of BrandNewman Advising. She is a professional speaker, executive coach and luxury real estate agent. Omarosa has worked in politics for more than 20 years and served in the White House for two U.S. presidents. Her book Unhinged: An Insider’s Account of the Trump White House debuted at No. 1 on The New York Times best sellers list. She currently resides in Jacksonville, Fla. with her husband Rev. John Allen Newman and their dachshund Duke. Follow her at Omarosa.com.