Oval Office Confidential
November 20, 2020

Most of President Trump's advisers who "act like they think he can still overturn the election results" only do so "because they remain on the payroll and don't have another choice," Axios reports, but not Rudy Giuliani. "The true believers are Giuliani and his sidekicks — Jenna Ellis and Sidney Powell — and not many others," and "some administration officials say it's borderline impossible to have a serious policy conversation these days without Trump turning it into a rant about the Dominion voting machine conspiracy," Axios adds. "Most hardcore Trump sources have psychologically bailed, and are just waiting out the storm."

"At first," The Washington Post reports, "Trump seemed rather deflated with the election results and only going through the motions of a legal fight. But his attitude changed in recent days. Although Trump has long vacillated on Giuliani, he has been buoyed by the former New York mayor's energy — and, after so many other advisers told him he was unlikely to win a second term, by Giuliani's proclamations that he just might." And while most aides viewed Giuliani's conspiratorial press conference Thursday as "farcical, with streaks of what appeared to be black hair dye mixed with sweat dripping down" his face, the Post notes, "Trump was said to be enthused about the news conference and asked allies to watch it."

Trump "has grown more strident with his false messages about a stolen election," and he's "toggling between appearing to recognize his loss and expressing bitterness and disbelief that what he believed was a victory was being taken from him," The New York Times reports. "The few people who have tried to intervene and tell him that it is time to let Mr. Biden begin a transition have been shut down by Mr. Trump." Most aides would normally "clamor" to spend time in the Oval Office, the Times' Maggie Haberman adds, but "these days, almost everyone is avoiding going in, either to avoid getting yelled at or to avoid getting asked their opinion."

"Trump has heard from a multitude of friends and business associates who have been urging him to at least let the transition begin, even if he doesn't want to concede," CNN adds. "Trump is listening to his friends, this source said, but hurriedly ends conversations because he disagrees. He doesn't want to hear what he doesn't believe." Peter Weber

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