President Donald Trump has made his first official public appearance since losing last week’s election to Joe Biden, travelling to Arlington National Cemetery to mark Veterans Day in the United States.
He has not spoken on camera since Friday night, before Mr Biden passed the threshold of 270 electoral votes required for victory.
But the President did attend a ceremony at Arlington this morning, alongside First Lady Melania Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and Second Lady Karen Pence.
According to Mr Trump’s public schedule, he was supposed to arrive at 10:55am, with the ceremony starting at 11am and his entourage departing at 11:20am.
The group didn’t actually show up until 11:24am.
Mr Trump stood in the pouring rain for the ceremony, during which he saluted to show his respect for America’s fallen soldiers.
He then approached a wreath which had already been placed at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (contrary to some media reports, he did not lay it himself; a military serviceman did that at 11am on the dot).
The President placed his hand on the wreath and stood silently for several seconds.
Mr Trump was there for a total of about six minutes, and did not make any remarks. It was the only event on his schedule for the day.
The White House has released a written proclamation from the President to mark the day.
“America’s veterans have fought to defend our country, its values, and its interests since the first days of our founding,” Mr Trump said.
“They have defeated tyrants, eliminated terrorists, and secured freedom at home and abroad. Their courage and fortitude in the face of adversity serve as an example for all Americans. On Veterans Day, we pause to pay tribute to all who have proudly worn our nation’s uniform. “These soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, and coast guardsmen selflessly placed lives, well‑being, and security of others before their own.
“We enjoy the privileges of peace, prosperity, and freedom because of our veterans, and we are forever indebted to them beyond measure.”
Earlier this morning, striking a very different tone, Mr Trump once again posted unsubstantiated claims about his election defeat on social media.
He accused ABC News and The Washington Post of publishing a “possibly illegal suppression poll” before the election, calling it “deplorable”.
The poll in question, which was unquestionably way off the mark, showed Mr Trump behind by 17 per cent in Wisconsin the week before the election. He ended up losing the state by less than 1 per cent, or a margin of 20,500 votes.
The Trump campaign has requested a recount. Typically, recounts only flip a few hundred votes, so it is unlikely to change the result.
Mr Trump also personally targeted Al Schmidt, a Republican election official from Philadelphia who has spoken out against his claims of fraud.
“A guy named Al Schmidt, a Philadelphia commissioner and so-called Republican (RINO), is being used big time by the fake news media to explain how honest things were with respect to the election in Philadelphia,” the President said.
“He refuses to look at a mountain of corruption and dishonesty. We win!”
RINO is a pejorative term which stands for “Republican in name only”. In the years before Mr Trump rose to the top of the party, it was used by the conservative wing to refer to politicians who were insufficiently pure, ideologically.
Since then it has been used to refer to anyone in the party who criticises Mr Trump.
Mr Trump has yet to provide any evidence to support his assertion that the Philadelphia results were a “mountain of corruption”.
The city leans heavily Democratic (as do most urban areas in the US), and its support was criticial to Joe Biden winning Pennsylvania. He currently leads the state by 48,000 votes.
Mr Schmidt is one of three city commissioners responsible for the vote count in Philadelphia. Unlike the other two, he is a Republican.
He has appeared a couple of times in the media in recent days, which is undoubtedly how the President came to notice him.
First, in an interview with 60 Minutes, Mr Schmidt said he was baffled by the Trump campaign’s fraud claims.
“From the inside looking out, it feels all very deranged,” he said.
“We are counting eligible votes cast by voters. The controversy surrounding it is something I don’t understand.
“It’s people making accusations that we wouldn’t count those votes, or that people are adding fraudulent votes, or just coming up with, just, all sorts of crazy stuff.”
He revealed election officials were receiving calls from people telling them “this is what the Second Amendment is for”. The Second Amendment to the US Constitution is the one that protects Americans’ right to bear arms.
“That’s a not so veiled death threat,” said the interviewer, CBS reporter Bill Whitaker.
“Yes, for counting votes in a democracy,” Mr Schmidt said.
Mr Schmidt was also on CNN this morning. Host John Berman asked him what he’d say to Mr Trump and his campaign, given the chance.
“People should be mindful that there are bad actors who are lying to them,” he replied.
“And they need to turn to people that they trust and to sources of information that they trust, and not rumors and not nonsense included in lawsuits or anything else like that.
“I have seen the most fantastical things on social media, making completely ridiculous allegations that have no basis in fact at all.”
Mr Biden was actually in Philadelphia today for his own Veterans Day appearance. The president-elect and his wife, Dr Jill Biden, visited the city’s Korean War Memorial.
He, too, released a statement to mark the occasion.
“Today, we as a nation pause to honour the service, the valor and the commitment of all those who have worn the uniform of the Armed Forces,” he said.
“They stand as part of a proud chain of warrior patriots reaching back to the earliest days of our republic, each one taking up the sacred mission to defend our nation’s highest values, our liberty, and democracy.
“The women and men who have fought and sacrificed for our country are heroes, and the rest of us owe them an unpayable debt. They have earned our thanks and, above all, our respect.”
The president-elect said he felt “the full weight of the honour and the responsibility” that had been placed on him.
“I vow to honor our country’s sacred obligation. To all of our proud veterans, know that I will be a commander in chief who respects your sacrifice, understands your service, and who will never betray the values you fought so bravely to defend,” said Mr Biden.
“I will never treat you or your families with anything less than the honor you deserve.”