Aides to President Trump have been counseling him this week that his legal options to try to contest the election are limited, but Trump wants to fight it out, a former campaign adviser who remains in touch with key players told NPR.
"It's dawning on him," the former adviser said, speaking on condition of anonymity to comment on private conversations. "He never thought he could lose ... and those of us who are in Trump World, we actually never believed he could lose."
Trump's ability to withstand crisis after crisis conditioned his team to have "a false sense of reality because he's survived so many times. You just assume he's going to survive again," the former adviser said.
The former adviser said he believes Trump will eventually concede, but at this stage believes he has a responsibility to the people who voted for him to "go to the mattresses to push, you know, as far as he can."
The campaign recognizes that Trump's legal options are limited, the former adviser said, given his large deficits in Georgia and Pennsylvania. "There's only so many legal options that he has," the former adviser said. "And even those legal options, they don't make sense because he still doesn't get to 270."
Democratic nominee Joe Biden is currently six electoral votes from securing the presidency, while President Trump's path to reelection has narrowed considerably. Trump has been baselessly claiming that Democrats are stealing the election.
The campaign has named David Bossie, a close sounding board for Trump during both campaigns, to lead the broader effort to fight. Bossie is not directing lawyers, but rather is a conduit between Trump and his base, the former adviser said.
But many election law experts say that the number of votes that would be fought over in legal challenges likely wouldn't be seen as being large enough by the courts, and ultimately the Supreme Court, to justify the litigation.
In public, Trump and his campaign have vowed to pursue legal challenges aggressively. The campaign has filed lawsuits in several states, many of which have been dismissed. Others are pending.
"We will pursue this process through every aspect of the law to guarantee that the American people have confidence in our government," Trump said in a statement Friday." I will never give up fighting for you and our nation."