US President-elect Joe Biden on Monday called upon the country to “turn the page” in a victory speech after the electoral college voted to reaffirm his 2020 White House win.
He also went on to express rare outrage and impatience with President Donald Trump and his allies’ “assault on democracy” for their refusal to acknowledge his defeat.
Shortly after the vote, William Barr, the once loyal attorney general who later disputed Trump’s election fraud claims, resigned, ending a souring relationship.
Biden formally won 306 electoral college votes as electors voted in state capitals around the country either virtually or in person, fulfilling a pro forma responsibility that wouldn’t have received so much public attention but for Trump’s refusal to acknowledge his defeat. Trump expectedly won 232.
“If anyone didn’t know it before, we know it now. What beats deep in the hearts of the American people is this – democracy,” Biden said in remarks from Wilmington, Delaware. “And so, now it is time to turn the page, to unite, to heal.”
Biden had been publicly patient with Trump’s constant efforts to question and overturn the election result, giving the president time to come to terms with his defeat. He had extended the same understanding to Republican lawmakers, a majority of whom have also not acknowledged Biden’s victory fearing Trump’s wrath.
The dam broke on Monday, though. Biden ripped into Trump, mentioning him by name more times than he has before in any speech after winning the election, and also the Republicans, accusing them of launching an “unprecedented assault on democracy”.
Biden listed out Trump’s efforts — the legal challenges that were heard and rejected by 80 judges around the country, including the Supreme Court, the multiple recounts, and the political pressure on elected Republican officials and election officials.
“Every avenue was made available to President Trump to contest the results,” Biden said. “Respecting the will of the people is at the heart of our democracy – even when we find those results hard to accept. But that is the obligation of those who have taken a sworn duty to uphold our constitution.”
Biden became the “projected” winner of the election in the week of November 3, when polling closed. He was then “officially” the winner on December 8 when all 50 states and Washington, DC “certified” the election result setting up the electoral college vote for December 14.
The electoral college votes cast on Monday will be counted by the House of Representatives on January 6, another formality elevated to prominence.
Trump allies in the House expect to use that part of the process to try to overturn the election one last time. They will fail, as they have so far, and the president-elect will be sworn in on January 20.
Shortly after the electoral college vote became clear in the evening, Trump announced the departure of Barr, who has publicly disputed Trump’s poll fraud claims, saying his department had found no evidence of irregularities of the scale that could change the outcome of the election.
Barr’s exit had been imminent since his public break with the president. But instead of being hounded out of office like his predecessor Jeff Sessions, Barr managed a carefully choreographed exit that appeared amicable. So much so that Trump tweeted out Barr’s resignation letter.