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Trump Says He Will Leave White House if Biden Wins Electoral College Vote

U.S. President Donald Trump said 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 repeated his unfounded claims of massive voter fraud.

Speaking to reporters on the Thanksgiving holiday, Republican Trump said if Democrat Biden, who is to be sworn in 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.

“This election was a fraud,” Trump insisted at the White House while continuing to offer no concrete evidence of widespread voting irregularities. Earlier Trump spoke by video link with members of the U.S. military for the holiday.

Biden won the election with 306 Electoral College votes — many more than the 270 required — to Trump’s 232, and the electors are scheduled to meet Dec. 14 to formalize the outcome. Biden also leads Trump by more than 6 million in the popular vote tally.

Trump has so far refused to fully acknowledge his defeat, though last week, with mounting pressure from his own Republican ranks, he agreed to let Biden’s transition process officially proceed.

Asked if he would leave the White House if the Electoral College votes for Biden, Trump said: “Certainly I will. Certainly I will. And you know that.”

“But I think that there will be a lot of things happening between now and the 20th of January. A lot of things,” he said. “Massive fraud has been found. We’re like a third world country.”

Desperate efforts by Trump and his aides to overturn results in key states, either by lawsuits or by pressuring state legislators, have failed, and he is running out of options.

In the United States, a candidate becomes president by securing the most electoral votes rather than by winning a majority of the national popular vote. Electors, allotted to the 50 states and the District of Columbia largely based on their population, are party loyalists who pledge to support the candidate who won the popular vote in their state.

Biden, Trump stay close to home

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 hosted 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.

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.

Argentines Bid a Raucous Farewell to Maradona Amid Clashes 

Soccer superstar Diego Maradona was buried Thursday in a private ceremony attended by two dozen people — a stark contrast to earlier in the day when tens of thousands of weeping fans filed past his coffin for hours in an observance that mixed head-of-state-like honors with the chaos of a rowdy stadium.

Only family members and close friends were permitted at Jardín Bella Vista cemetery for the final religious ceremony and burial of Maradona next to the graves of his parents, Dalma and Diego.

Fans waving Argentine flags had gathered along roads as Maradona’s funeral car drove by under heavy security. Many tried to touch the vehicle whenever it was stopped by traffic.

The earlier viewing at the Argentine presidential mansion was halted shortly before 6 p.m., 12 hours after it started, as Maradona’s family wished. The body of the Argentine icon was taken away for burial, frustrating many who were waiting to pay their respects and causing new tensions at the gates of the cemetery.

Fans, some draped in the national flag, sang soccer anthems as they formed a line that stretched more than 20 blocks from the Plaza de Mayo, where Argentines gathered to celebrate the Maradona-led triumph in the 1986 World Cup.

A sign set up by mourning fans reads in Spanish, “Thank You God for Everything,” as police block their access to the Jardin de Bellavista cemetery during the burial of Diego Maradona in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Nov. 26, 2020.

But with the time for viewing the coffin at the presidential palace drawing short, police moved to cut off the crowd, enraging fans who hurled rocks and other objects at officers, who responded with rubber bullets.

The crowd overwhelmed organizers and the violence resulted in injuries and arrests, which led Maradona’s family to end the public visitation. The casket was placed in a car that carried the former footballer’s name on a paperboard by the window.

Desperate to say goodbye, Maradona’s fans climbed on the fences of the presidential mansion as if they were in a soccer stadium, while firefighters worked to clear the ground.

‘Diego lives in the people’

“Diego is not dead, Diego lives in the people,” people chanted as the coffin was taken to a cemetery outside Buenos Aires. The motorcade, accompanied by police, was followed on a local highway by dozens of honking cars and motorcycles.

Hundreds of fans blocked entry to the cemetery before the arrival of Maradona’s casket, dancing and chanting as police moved in to open a way. The crowd continued making noise after the final ceremony began.

Maradona died Wednesday of a heart attack in a house outside Buenos Aires where he had been recovering from a brain operation November 3.

Mourners embrace as they wait to see football star Diego Maradona lying in state outside the presidential palace in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Nov. 26, 2020.

While the viewing bore the hallmarks of a state funeral, with Maradona’s casket laid out in the presidential palace, the atmosphere often was that of a soccer stadium — chanting, singing, pushing and the occasional whiff of alcohol.

Fans wept and blew kisses as they passed the wooden coffin, some striking their chests with closed fists and shouting, “Let’s go, Diego.”

It was draped with the Argentine flag and shirts bearing his famed No. 10 from the national team and the Boca Juniors club, with other jerseys tossed around it by passing admirers.

Family, friends first

Open visitation began at 6:15 a.m. after a few hours of privacy for family and close friends. The first to bid farewell were his daughters and close family members. His former wife, Claudia Villafañe, came with Maradona’s daughters Dalma and Gianinna. Later came Verónica Ojeda, also an ex-wife, with their son, Dieguito Fernando.

Jana Maradona, whom the player recognized as his daughter only a few years ago, also attended.

Then came former teammates of the 1986 World Cup-winning squad, including Oscar Ruggeri. Other Argentine footballers, such as Boca Juniors’ Carlos Tévez, showed up, too.

President Alberto Fernández appeared at midday and placed on the casket a jersey from the Argentinos Juniors team, where Maradona started his career in 1976.

Relatives and friends bury the remains of Diego Maradona while police keep fans outside the Jardin de Bellavista cemetery in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Nov. 26, 2020.

In tears, Fernández also laid two handkerchiefs of the human rights organization Mother of the Plaza de Mayo, whose members wore them for years to protest the disappearance of their children under Argentina’s military dictatorship between 1976 and 1983. Maradona, an outspoken leftist who had an image of Argentine revolutionary Che Guevara tattooed on one bicep, was a friend of the Madres and other rights groups.

The lines started forming outside the Casa Rosada only hours after Maradona’s death was confirmed and grew to several blocks.

A huge mural of Maradona’s face was painted on the tiles that cover the Plaza de Mayo, near the Casa Rosada, which was decorated with a giant black ribbon at the entrance.

The first fan to visit was Nahuel de Lima, 30, using crutches to move because of a disability.

“He made Argentina be recognized all over the world. Who speaks of Maradona also speaks of Argentina,” de Lima told The Associated Press. “Diego is the people. … Today the shirts, the political flags don’t matter. We came to say goodbye to a great that gave us a lot of joy.”

1986 march to glory

Maradona’s soccer genius, personal struggles and plain-spoken personality resonated deeply with Argentines.

He led an underdog team to glory in the 1986 World Cup, winning the title after scoring two astonishing goals in a semifinal match against England, thrilling a country that felt humiliated by its loss against the British in the recent Falklands war and that was still recovering from the brutal military dictatorship.

Many Argentines deeply sympathized with the struggles of a man who rose from poverty to fame and wealth and fell into abuse of drug, drink and food. He remained idolized in the soccer-mad nation as the “Pibe de Oro” or “Golden Boy.”

Many of those in line to enter the Casa Rosada wore masks because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but they struggled to keep social distancing.

Social worker Rosa Noemí Monje, 63, said she and others overseeing health protocols understood the emotion of the moment.

“It is impossible to ask them to distance. We behave respectfully and offer them sanitizer and face masks,” she said. Monje also paid her last tribute to Maradona.

“I told him: To victory always, Diego,” Monje said as she wept.

Bank of Canada: Vaccine Could Trigger Swift Economic Rebound

Canada’s economy could rebound faster than expected if consumer spending jumps in the wake of a successful coronavirus vaccination effort, Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem said Thursday.

On the other hand, if the economy weakens amid a second wave of infections, Macklem indicated the central bank could, if necessary, cut already record-low interest rates.

In late October, the bank said it assumed a vaccine would not be widely available until mid-2022. Since then, several manufacturers have announced potential vaccines that could be distributed starting early next year.

“It is possible, especially when there is a vaccine, that households will decide to spend more than we have forecast, and if that happens the economy will rebound more quickly,” Macklem said in response to questions from the House of Commons finance committee. He described the news about vaccines as promising.

In late October, the bank forecast the economy would not fully recover until sometime in 2023, a forecast Macklem repeated in his opening remarks.

The path to recovery still faces risks, he said. Earlier this year, the bank slashed its key interest rate to 0.25%.

“We could potentially lower the effective lower bound, even without going negative. It’s at 25 basis points. It could be a little bit lower,” Macklem said, repeating that negative interest rates would not be helpful.

The U.S. Federal Reserve has a target for its key rate of 0 to 0.25%. The Reserve Bank of Australia this month cut its policy rate to 0.1%.

Some other central banks also have benchmark rates that are less than 0.25%, such as the European Central Bank and the Bank of England.

“We want to be very clear – Canadians can be confident that borrowing costs are going to remain very low for a long time,” Macklem said.