Follow the money: Trump's refusal to concede is a scam in the true sense of the word
Donald Trump's refusal to concede has absolutely nothing to do with winning the election. No matter what Trump may be tweeting from the Fortress of Poutitude, he knows he's lost. There is no scenario in which recounts and court challenges are going to uncover anything close to enough votes to overcome the clear result of the election.
The refusal to place that grudging call to Joe Biden is also not being set by Trump's ego. Of course that ego is a factor. Since it's the size of a small moon, Trump's ego always generates enough gravity to distort any situation, but no matter how many pundits pearl-clutch over giving Trump time to adjust to being a big loser, or how many Republicans show that they're so there for Trump in his hour of despair, that's just … not it. The biggest reason that Donald Trump won't concede is the simplest. It's the same reason that has driven every decision of Trump's life: money.
As The Washington Post reports, all but a handful of Republicans aren't just echoing Trump's claims about nonexistent voter fraud, they're doing so while fully aware that their actions are both damaging faith in the democratic process and preventing President-elect Biden from having access to national security information and other classified documents that could be vital to planning his transition.
Republicans obviously want to show that they're still loyal to Trump—in the case of those like Sen. Lindsey Graham, disgustingly so. But Trump hasn't exactly made it a secret what this is about. From the night of the election, Trump supporters have been receiving emails asking them to donate to the "Official Election Defense Fund" or the new "Save America PAC." Some supporters report that they have received up to 18 solicitations in a single day asking for money for one or both of these projects.
Trump voters are being told that these funds are going to support an "emergency recount" of votes in Wisconsin. Or that they are being used to present "proof" of voter fraud in court. Only Trump's campaign has not actually asked for a recount in Wisconsin, much less ponied up the $3 million that's required. And it's certainly not what Trump's actual attorneys are saying in actual courts.
Judge: Are you claiming that there is any fraud in connection with these 592 disputed ballots?
Trump attorney: To my knowledge at present, no.
Judge: Are you claiming there is any undue or improper influence upon the elector with respect to these 592 ballots?
Trump attorney: To my knowledge at present, no.
Right now, Trump's team is 0-12 for the court cases they've brought in half a dozen states. Because not only do they have no evidence, they also have no particular intention of winning. It's all for show.
What it's about is raking in millions for Trump. Not only does the money being brought in pay Rudy Giuliani to stand in front of landscaping stores and spread lies, the money is also being used to pay down debts Trump ran up during the campaign. In the case of solicitations from the "Make America Great Again Committee," exactly none of the money goes to actual investigation of the fraud they know never happened. Instead, 40% of the money goes to the RNC while 60% flows to Trump's campaign.
Just as he did with his inaugural fund in 2016, Trump has turned "election defense" into a way to not only take in cash, but to take in cash in quantities not limited by laws about election contributions. Donors to the MAGA committee or Save America PAC aren't going to hit the wall of campaign contributions … even though most of the money is going to end up in Trump's campaign, where he can turn around and pay his family, friends, and self any amount he wants. It is a cash grab, pure and simple.
But why would other Republicans be going along with this? Well, this maneuver from South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem provides a good clue. In an online solicitation, Noem urges voters to "help us bring it home for the president" and warns that Trump "needs our support while the far-left Dems declare a victory for Biden before all the votes are counted." However, none of the money going into this fund is connected with funding investigations into campaign fraud. It's not even going to Trump's campaign. 100% of the donations instead flow into Noem's own reelection fund.
Whether Trump ever calls Biden, or whether he prefers to pretend to be the prince in exile, forever fighting against an usurper who took his rightful place will be determined by the same thing that's driving his strategy, and the strategy of other Republicans right now: the money.
There really is election fraud. And Donald Trump, along with 99% of the nation's Republican leadership, are engaged in it at the moment.