By Babajide Okeowo
United States President-Elect Joe Biden has called for unity after the Electoral College formalised his victory over President Donald Trump in what has all but closed the door on the incumbent’s efforts to overturn the result of the November 2020’s election.
Biden scored 306 Electoral College votes to make his victory official while President Trump scored 232 votes.
“Democracy prevailed. We the people voted. The integrity of our elections remains intact. Now it is time to turn the page, to unite, to heal, I will be a president for all Americans” Biden said in excerpts from a speech he was expected to deliver in his home city of Wilmington, Delaware.
But with his ability to steal the spotlight still intact, Trump announced moments later that Attorney General Bill Barr, who contradicted the outgoing president’s claims that the November 3 election was marred by fraud, would leave his post next week.
“Our relationship has been a very good one,” Trump tweeted, making no mention of their divergence. “Bill will be leaving just before Christmas to spend the holidays with his family.”
While a senior administration official said Barr resigned of his own accord and was not pushed out, the extraordinary convergence of events highlighted the tensions underlying Trump’s “lame duck” final weeks in office.
The 200-plus-year-old Electoral College procedure is merely a formality in confirming the will of the people expressed at the polls, but the process carried added significance given the turbulence of last month’s election and Trump’s refusal to acknowledge his own defeat.
California’s electors burst into applause as the presiding officer read out the tally of 55 in favor of Biden and none opposed — confirming Barack Obama’s former vice president as the nation’s 46th president.
This year, the somewhat arcane Electoral College procedure was at the center of an ugly — and many warn dangerous — challenge led by Trump against the credibility of US democracy.
Recall that Trump has continued to claim, without evidence, that he was the real winner of the election.
Several courts have turned down the Republican team’s claims of election fraud and last Friday the US Supreme Court dealt a final legal blow when it threw out an appeal lodged by Trump allies from Texas and other Republican-led states.
In the latest sign of a shifting tide, the staunchly Trump-supporting editorial board of The Wall Street Journal told Trump that his time is up.
“President Trump’s legal challenges have run their course, and he and the rest of the Republican Party can help the country and themselves by acknowledging the result and moving on,” it said.