On the morning of November 7, 2020, the Saturday after the presidential election, President Donald Trump had just approached the tee box on the seventh hole of his golf course in Sterling, Virginia, when an advisor’s phone rang with messages from Jared Kushner: All major media outlets, including Fox News, were about to call the presidential election for Democrat Joe Biden.
Mr. Trump had tweeted on the way to the course that he was “OF MUCH!” won. But he showed none of that full energy when he pressed the phone to his ear. In a dark sweater and trousers with white golf shoes and a matching MAGA cap, Mr. Trump quietly listened to his son-in-law as he strolled over the manicured grass under a clear blue sky. He hung up, casually handed the phone back to an aide, and finished the final 12 holes while more than a dozen golf carts full of government officials and intelligence agents pulled up behind him.
When Mr. Trump finally pulled up outside the clubhouse in his bespoke car – complete with a presidential seal sewn into the seat – club members cheered him on the back patio. “Don’t worry,” Trump told them. “It’s not over yet.”
But the choice was actually over. What wasn’t ready was the tenure he’d won four years earlier, and on November 7th, one of the most pressing questions for staff was how to fill his calendar. “Let’s do all the things we couldn’t do because of all the distractions and have fun,” Hope Hicks, a longtime Trump assistant, told the president’s team gathered at campaign headquarters in Arlington, Virginia .
Mr Trump had won far more votes than his team predicted, with surprising support from black and Hispanic men. He was an instant favorite for the party’s 2024 nomination, and Ms. Hicks expressed that sentiment with her light-hearted curtain proposal. But at the table in a glass-enclosed conference room, Trump’s eldest sons channeled their father’s reaction. “What you mean is not even an option,” replied Donald Trump Jr., who called for the meeting. “It’s a non-runner,” added Eric Trump.