Ignoring pleas to step down gracefully, Mr Trump’s campaign was launching a PR and messaging blitz to back its claim that victory was stolen from the President’s grasp through fraudulent vote counts in states like Pennsylvania and Georgia where Mr Biden came from behind to be declared the winner at the weekend.
A series of legal challenges will be aimed at delaying formal certification of results in key battleground states. First Lady Melania and the President’s son-in-law Jared Kushner were both reported to have urged Mr Trump to accept defeat.
The White House disputed the claims and Mrs Trump, who was said by CNN to have offered the advice to her husband in private, went public with a tweet saying: “The American people deserve fair elections. Every legal — not illegal — vote should be counted.”
According to Washington sources, Mr Kushner was told by campaign advisers that any legal strategy was unlikely to change the election result.
The President’s eldest sons, Donald Jr and Eric, were said to be leading calls to fight. One focus of the campaign is to present obituaries of people whose names were allegedly used to vote for Mr Biden.
The split in the White House was reflected in the Republican Party after former President George W Bush publicly congratulated Mr Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris and said that, while Mr Trump had the right to request recounts and court hearings, “the American people can have confidence that this election was fundamentally fair.”