“Being with Trump the day he lost”

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White House reporter Tara McKelvey wrote of what Trump did when television channels announced Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States: “He walked through an entrance that presidents rarely used. His shoulders were collapsed and his head bowed.”

We quote the impression written by the BBC’s White House correspondent, Tara McKelvey:

“Over the past four years, I’ve seen President Donald Trump in good and bad times. But November 7, when he lost the election, was a day like no other.

Wearing a black windbreaker, dark pants and a white MAGA (Make America Great Again) hat, the president left the White House a few minutes before 10:00. He had spent the early hours of his day tweeting about election fraud.

Now he leaned forward slightly, as if he were heading into the wind. He got into a dark vehicle and went to Trump National, golf club in Sterling, Virginia, 40km from the White House.

It reflected an atmosphere of trust at that moment. It was a beautiful, perfect day for golf and he would spend that day at the club.

But the people working for him seemed nervous.

‘Whats up?’ I asked one of the senior employees.

He said ‘good’. He smiled, but his eyes narrowed. He looked at his phone.

Trauma of choice

The White House has experienced some trauma in the days since the elections. It was only Tuesday, but it was like a lifetime ago.

Most of the tables in the West Wing were empty as we walked through the building on Saturday morning. Several staff members were infected with coronavirus and were out of the office. Others were under quarantine.

Then, from 11:30 a.m. while the president was in the golf club, the BBC and US networks began to announce the victory of his Democratic rival Joe Biden.

I was sitting in an Italian restaurant about a mile from the club when I heard the news. I am a member of the White House press pool, a small group of journalists traveling with the president. We were all waiting for him to leave the club.

A woman who voted for the President’s opponent, like many of her neighbors in this Democratic-leaning region, said, “He’s toxic.”

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Others were talking about when the president would leave the club and return to the White House. Minutes passed, then hours.

“He’s not in a hurry,” a security guard said quietly to a colleague.

The President was in no hurry to leave. He was with his friends at the club. Trump supporters standing outside the restaurant door shouted at me and other journalists: “Terminate the media!”

A woman in heels and wearing a red-white-blue bandana was carrying a sign saying ‘Stop stealing.

A man drove his truck up and down the road in front of the club, and one was carrying a banner depicting the president standing on a tank like the commander of the world.

This was how his fans saw him and how Trump has seen himself for the past four years.

He eventually left the club and began his journey home.

“You lose, we all win”

The president’s convoy was driving loudly across Virginia as I boarded a car that narrowly escaped an accident on Fairfax County Parkway. Sirens were ringing.

The crowds grew closer to the White House: people went out to celebrate his defeat. Someone raised a banner: ‘You lose, we all win.’ People were honking and making fun of him.

Then we returned to the White House, where the president walked through the side door, an entrance that presidents rarely used. His shoulders were sunken and his head was bowed.

He took one look, saw me and other journalists, made an ‘arrow’ sign at us with his thumb. This was a blind act; He did not raise his hand or swing a fist as he often did.

Whether he was in the White House or at the golf club, the president did not stop making false claims of election fraud and insisting that he would be justified.

In the morning, he tweeted about the ‘illegally taken’ votes and declared it defiantly in capital letters in the afternoon. “I WON THE CHOICE.”

But he was Trump on Twitter. The man I saw made a different impression. In the afternoon as we headed to the side door of the White House, that cool guy was gone. “


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