Trump says he will leave White House if US Electoral College votes for Biden
U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday he will leave the White House if the Electoral College votes for President-elect Joe Biden, the closest he has come to conceding the Nov. 3 election, even as he reiterated his unfounded claims of massive voter fraud.
Speaking to reporters on the Thanksgiving holiday, Republican Trump said if Democrat Biden - who is due to be sworn in on Jan. 20 - is certified the election winner by the Electoral College, he will depart the White House.
But Trump said it would be hard for him to concede under the current circumstances and declined to say whether he would attend Biden's inauguration. The electors are scheduled to meet on Dec. 14.
"This election was a fraud," Trump insisted, while offering no concrete evidence of such voting irregularities.
Biden and Trump both stayed close to home to celebrate Thanksgiving on Thursday as the coronavirus pandemic raged across the country.
Biden spent the holiday in the small seaside town of Rehoboth, Delaware, where he and his wife Jill have a vacation home. The Bidens are hosting daughter Ashley Biden and her husband Dr. Howard Krein for the holiday meal.
The former vice president, appearing with his wife in a video message posted to his Twitter account on Thanksgiving, said his family typically holds a large gathering on the island of Nantucket off Massachusetts, but would remain in Delaware this year "with just a small group around our dinner table" because of the pandemic.
In the presidential-style address to a nation that has lost more than 260,000 lives to the coronavirus, the Democratic president-elect said Americans were making a "shared sacrifice for the whole country" and a "statement of common purpose" by staying at home with their immediate families.
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"I know this isn't the way many of us hoped we'd spend our holiday. We know that a small act of staying home is a gift to our fellow Americans," said Biden. "I know better days are coming."
Republican President Trump often likes to celebrate holidays at his Mar-a-Largo resort in Florida. But on Thursday he remained in the Washington area, spending part of the morning at his Trump National Golf Club in Virginia where he played a round of golf.
It was a far cry from last year when he made a surprise visit https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-afghanistan/trump-makes-surprise-afghanistan-trip-voices-hope-for-ceasefire-idUSKBN1Y225Y to Afghanistan, where he served turkey to U.S. troops before sitting down to eat Thanksgiving dinner with them.
This time, Trump spoke by video link from the White House to members of the military.
With their sports shops, hotels and restaurants closed due to coronavirus restrictions, Italy's main ski resorts already resemble ghost towns. And hope of reopening for Christmas is fading fast.
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte warned this week there is the risk of a new wave of infections, while German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called for all EU resorts to be closed until January 10.
In the alpine village of Sestriere, one of the hosts of the 2006 Winter Olympic Games, Giovanni Brasso normally employs 350 full-time staff in his ski lift operating company.
But he fears that if they do not open for Christmas, they may not reopen at all this season.
"We take 45 percent of all the season's revenue over the Christmas holiday. If you take that away, we can't go on," he told AFP.
"I am very bitter because I'm convinced the ski stations could reopen safely, by taking the necessary measures," like they do in Switzerland.
According to him, they could work with Italian police to ensure skiers wear masks and keep their distance from each other.
- Disaster -
The industry is still recovering from the abrupt end to last year's season caused when coronavirus swept Italy, sparking a national lockdown.
At the Lago Losetta hotel, on the edge of a little lake of the same name, owner Gianfranco Martin says closing until January 10 would be "a disaster", losing him 60 percent of his annual turnover.
"We are very concerned, and very pessimistic," said Martin, himself an Olympic silver medallist.
Sestriere is also suffering from a lack of snow, a problem that could be, and has been in the past, resolved with cannons firing artificial snow.
But at a cost of 500,000 euros ($590,000), according to Martin, it would be a major investment with no guarantee of a return.
Apres-ski is also an attraction of a holiday on the slopes, but all that has stopped with new restrictions against Covid-19, which has surged again, taking Italy's death toll past 50,000.
Massimo Fontana, whose Igloo bar and restaurant is a popular spot, with big wooden tables and fur-covered stools overlooking the pistes, is trying to stay upbeat.
"From an economic viewpoint, it's a horrifying loss. But if we want to get out of this situation (the pandemic), we have to find a compromise," he said.
Merkel's call for a Europe-wide solution might be better than a country-by-country approach, he said. "We might receive some support."
- Fresh air -
Some 200 kilometres north, still in the restricted "red" zone, the village of Cervinia has been allowed to keep some of its slopes and ski lifts open for athletes -- one of the few to do so in Europe.
This partial reopening involves "a big economic sacrifice", based of the expectation of business as usual over Christmas, said Matteo Zanetti, who runs the local ski lift company.
Closing over the holidays would require "significant support" from the government, he said. "The economic damage would be huge."
Erjon Tola, an Albanian Olympic athlete who is also a ski instructor, is already finding it tough.
For two months during the spring, he earned nothing, living on 600 euros a month in government hand-outs. "It's a critical situation," he said.
"It's so unfair that we're closed," added Gianlorenzo Vaudagnotto, who runs two ski shops.
"Skiing is not like being in a nightclub -- you're alone, and in the fresh air. And by managing the situation properly, we could all be open."
He said one of the hardest things was not knowing: "We wait, we've got nothing to do."
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