President Donald Trump is cutting short his Florida holiday holiday to return to Washington a day earlier than expected on Thursday, for reasons officials did not explain.
The White House announced the abrupt change in the president’s schedule late on Wednesday, hours after Republican senator Josh Hawley said he would raise objections next week when Congress meets to affirm President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the November election.
The move echoes the futile attempts to remain in power Mr Trump has been pushing following the failure of scores of legal challenges to the election outcome by his campaign, including at the Supreme Court.
The schedule change also means Mr Trump will miss the glitzy New Year’s Eve party held annually at his private Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach.
Neither Mr Trump nor the White House explained why he decided to shorten his holiday.
Accompanied by his wife Melania, Mr Trump arrived at his Mar-a-Lago home after dark on December 23 and spent practically the entire holiday focused on the futile attempt to overturn the election he lost to Mr Biden.
That includes the effort to have Republican legislators challenge the vote when Congress meets on January 6 to affirm Mr Biden’s 306-232 win in the Electoral College.
A group of Republicans in the Democratic-controlled House already had said they would object on Mr Trump’s behalf during the January 6 count of electoral votes. They needed at least one senator to join them to force votes in both chambers, and Mr Hawley stepped up.
The GOP objections, however, will not prevent Mr Biden from being sworn in as president on January 20, and senator Kamala Harris from becoming vice president.
During his holiday, Mr Trump also took near daily swipes on Twitter at Georgia Republican governor Brian Kemp and other state elections officials over his loss to Mr Biden in that state.
While he has remained focused on the effort to stay in power, Mr Trump has stayed quiet on major developments during the holiday break, including a Christmas Day bombing in Nashville, the discovery in California and Colorado of a new and apparently more contagious variant of the coronavirus, and Tuesday’s death of Republican representative-elect Luke Letlow from Covid-19 complications.
Since losing the election and beginning a campaign to overturn the outcome, the usually chatty Mr Trump has avoided engaging with reporters, even those who accompanied him to Florida.
He went as far as barring them from his Christmas Day remarks to US troops, which is the type of event the White House typically opens for news coverage.