ITV News Washington assistant news editor Sophie Alexander reports back from one of the strangest presidential press conferences in history.
It was Macbeth who ultimately became victim to his own hubris, yet his downfall took place in Act V Scene VIII on the battlefield in moody Scotland. President Trump’s toppling happened at the Four Seasons Total Landscaping in southern Philadelphia next to an adult bookstore and a crematorium.
It was five days after the election and the world was waiting for Pennsylvania to declare its result, one that would propel Joe Biden into the White House as the 46th President of the United States.
My cameraman and I had been in Philly since 3 Nov and when President Trump tweeted about a press conference at the Four Seasons we jumped in the car, buoyed by the thought of a decent cup of coffee and a posh breakfast.
On arrival at the five-star hotel, we met two French journalists looking lost, while perplexed hotel staff told us they had no idea what we were talking about.
Trump had deleted that tweet and rewritten it stating the presser was in fact at the Four Seasons Total Landscaping about 20 mins from downtown Philadelphia. So off in the car we headed, lost French journalists in the back seat, all of us wondering what was going on.
We arrived to see over 100 hacks stood outside on the street while some large muscular men in black shouted at us to ‘register’. One of them handed me the back of a small yellow notepad and I scrawled my name and number onto the cardboard.
Confusion reigned supreme: journalists were trying to get answers but there was no one to ask. Eventually we were led round the back to a dirt car park with a podium and a few Trump 2020 posters. Murmurs and mutterings from the world’s press turned into laughter and disbelief. The Trump campaign had obviously made a bit of a clerical error.
We all gamely set up our cameras waiting for Rudy Guiliani to shuffle on in between the piles of decking and curled wheels of yellow hose pipes when a journalist piped up ‘CNN have called it! Biden won!’ Almost immediately half the hacks started packing up as others shouted ‘NBC have called it too! Biden is the next President!’
The cameraman and I grabbed our gear, wanting to get out onto the streets and film the reaction to the breaking news. Yet the men in black had locked the gate and wouldn’t let us out.
After alerting passing police to being trapped inside, one of the heavies lumbered along with a rusty key and undid the padlock and we spilled onto the streets where Trump supporters were screaming and jubilant Biden supporters were singing ‘We are the champions’.
I’m told by a contact who stayed at the presser in the car park that Guiliani had no knowledge that Biden had won and was told by one of the journalists in the pack. The colour drained from his face, the wind visibly knocked from his sails.
“We do not accept this,” a Trump fan wearing just his underpants and a vest told me on the streets.
A more perfect ending to the Trump presidency could not have been dreamed up by the Bard himself.