Donald Trump admits Joe Biden won the US election - then backtracks and says 'I concede nothing'

Harriet Alexander

Donald Trump appeared for the first time to acknowledge publicly that Joe Biden had won the election, before rapidly backtracking and tweeting: "I concede NOTHING!"

The president tweeted on Sunday morning that Mr Biden "won because the ballot was rigged" - a statement which, in the United States, was taken as a sign that he was gradually accepting his electoral defeat.

Until now he had refused to state that Mr Biden won, insisting the election remained undecided.

"He won because the Election was Rigged," he tweeted.

"NO VOTE WATCHERS OR OBSERVERS allowed, vote tabulated by a Radical Left privately owned company, Dominion, with a bad reputation & bum equipment that couldn’t even qualify for Texas (which I won by a lot!), the Fake & Silent Media, & more!"

The tweet was immediately flagged by Twitter as promoting disinformation: poll watchers from both sides were present in every election site.

An hour later, as news was spreading that he had conceded, the 74-year-old tweeted that his statement was not intended as a concession.

He insisted that "we have a long way to go" and the fight continues.

"He only won in the eyes of the FAKE NEWS MEDIA," he said.

"I concede NOTHING! We have a long way to go. This was a RIGGED ELECTION!"

On Saturday night Mr Trump named the five people who will comprise his legal team, headed by his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

Among them are a husband-and-wife duo close to Mr Giuliani who are known to trade in conspiracy theories, and were considered for a role on Mr Trump's legal team to challenge the Mueller inquiry. When their appointment in May 2018 was announced, Mr Trump's then-lawyer John Dowd quit in disgust.

The team also includes Michael Flynn's lawyer Sidney Powell, a former US district attorney who turned against the department of justice and became convinced that there was a "deep state" of Obama-era officials working to undermine Mr Trump. She spelt out her theory in a 2014 book and became a darling of conspiracy theorists.

The Trump campaign's legal adviser Jenna Ellis also joined the group.

Decades younger than the others, she was a deputy district attorney in Colorado before going into teaching and private practice, and says that her evangelical beliefs lead her to see law as a "ministry".

The team will have their work cut out for them.

On Friday the Trump campaign abandoned its case in Arizona, realising it was unwinnable, and the law firm heading its efforts in Pennsylvania quit the case.

Judges in Michigan and Philadelphia threw out their legal challenges on Friday.

Efforts will likely focus on Georgia - a state which was called for Mr Biden, but where a hand recount is taking place as only 14,000 votes separate the two men, representing 0.3 per cent of the vote.

Their efforts to find fraud are believed highly unlikely to overturn 14,000 votes, however, and Mr Biden does not need the state to win the election.