As the likelihood of Donald Trump winning a second presidential term ebbs away, sons Donald Jr and Eric have taken aim at members of his own party for their perceived lack of support.
Donald Trump Jr reserved special ire for 2024 presidential hopefuls in a tweet, suggesting they should be out there impugning the integrity of the vote count.
His sentiments were backed up by Eric Trump, demanding Republicans who have failed to support his father since the vote “have some backbone”.
His tweet quickly drew a response from some of those hopefuls, including former South Carolina governor and UN ambassador Nikki Haley, and Senator Tom Cotton.
In a subsequent tweet, Donald Jr suggested his father should “go to total war” over the election result.
That tweet was hit with a misinformation warning by Twitter, which has been careful to monitor the language and content of communications on its platform.
This has displeased Donald Jr, who accused the social media giant of being “against finding potential fraud”.
“The best thing for America’s future is for @realDonaldTrump to go to total war over this election to expose all of the fraud, cheating, dead/no longer in state voters, that has been going on for far too long. It’s time to clean up this mess & stop looking like a banana republic!” he wrote on Twitter.
Mr Trump’s sons are angry at what appears an abandonment of their father while they believe the race for the presidency is still alive.
Eric tweeted, “Where is the GOP?! Our voters will never forget…” before going on to delete the tweet.
Votes are still being tallied in a handful of battleground states that could decide the presidency. Democratic challenger Joe Biden has a narrow lead in Nevada, Mr Trump a narrow lead in Georgia, and Mr Biden has been projected to prevail in Michigan.
An exhausted-looking Mr Trump remained defiant at a press conference on Thursday local time, vowing to fight the outcome in court.
“If you count the legal votes, I easily win. If you count the illegal votes, they can try to steal the election from us,” Mr Trump claimed.
If you count the votes that came in late, we’re looking into them very strongly. A lot of them have come in late.”
TV networks MSBNC, NBC and ABC News all cut away from Mr Trump’s speech shortly after he started speaking. CNN and Fox News carried the full remarks.
“What a sad night for the United States of America to hear their President say that,” CNN host Jake Tapper said after the press conference.
However, Mr Trump has been able to rely on his hardcore supporters.
Eric Trump said former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani was “really leading the legal effort” in the effort to undermine the count in key battleground states.
Mr Giuliani has been vocal in making unsubstantiated claims of stolen votes, insisting that 125,000 votes in Pennsylvania should be indiscriminately “deducted from the count.”
His 2016 campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski has also been pressing false claims of fraud. On Thursday, he doxed an attorney defending the city of Philadelphia against Trump lawsuits on Twitter.
On Wednesday, conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh echoed Trump’s declaration of victory, saying, “Donald Trump was reelected last night. Time will show us this. You know this. When they stopped counting, it means they’re looking for Democrat votes.”
An appeals court in Pennsylvania on Thursday ordered that Trump campaign officials be allowed to more closely observe ballot processing in Philadelphia, which led to a brief delay in the count.
Pennsylvania Democrats on Thursday filed papers in the US Supreme Court saying although they would not oppose the Trump campaign’s bid to intervene in a pending appeal in which Republicans seek to block late-arriving mail-in ballots in the state, it was premature for the court to act on the motion.