President Donald Trump was convinced he would win on election night, and exploded with anger when Fox News projected that the Democrats had flipped Arizona, The Washington Post reported.
According to a behind-the-scenes look in the Post at Trump's unprecedented bid to overturn the election result, Trump decided to claim the election was stolen from him by fraud on election night.
A key turning point was the usually loyal Fox News network projecting that Joe Biden had become the first Democrat to win Arizona since 1992, a loss which seriously restricted Trump's credible paths to the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win.
According to the Post, trump on election night had gathered in a White House war room with top aides, including son-in-law and advisor Jared Kushner and campaign manager Bill Stepien, to monitor election results.
Trump has reportedly been aware that polls indicated that he could lose the election. "Oh, wouldn't it be embarrassing to lose to this guy?" he reportedly remarked several times to aides of Joe Biden, now the president-elect.
But in the closing days of the campaign, Trump and top aides were reportedly convinced they would win in a repeat of 2016, where Trump pulled off a shock win despite most polls projected that his rival Hillary Clinton would triumph.
Early on election night, Trump built a clear early lead and was projected winner in Florida's swing state, in what some aides thought was a repeat of 2016 where Trump swiftly built an unassailable Electoral College lead.
But then Fox News, usually the network most staunchly loyal to the president, projected the Arizona, which had not voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1992, had flipped for Biden.
"He was yelling at everyone,""a senior administration official told the Post.""He was like, 'What the hell? We were supposed to be winning Arizona. What's going on?' He told Jared to call [News Corp. Executive Chairman Rupert] Murdoch."
Trump's attempt to persuade Fox to retract the projection proved unsuccessful, and Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs is expected to certify Biden's win in the state on Monday.
In the weeks since election night, Trump has continued to make baseless claims that the election was stolen from him due to widespread ballot fraud. A slew of legal challenges to election results in swing states have been rejected in courts.
He has stepped up his war on Fox News, and in a tweet on Saturday, the president described the network as "virtually unwatchable" and hyped right-wing networks OANN and Newsmax.