Netanyahu asked about Trump’s chances before congratulating Biden after the election, new book claims
Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to congratulate Joe Biden immediately after U.S. networks called the 2020 presidential election infuriated former President Donald Trump, who called it the “ultimate betrayal.” A soon-to-be-released book sheds light on Netanyahu’s thinking after the American polls closed.
Two days after the Nov. 3 election, a senior aide to Netanyahu reached out to a Trump advisor to ask if he thought his boss could still win as Biden held on to a lead in several states that Trump won in 2016, according to “This Will Not Pass,” by New York Times reporters Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns.
“What do you think? Do you think it’s going to turn? Are they going to find more votes?” Aaron Klein, then a strategic advisor to the Israeli premier, asked Tony Fabrizio, Trump’s chief pollster, in a phone call.
At that time, Biden was declared the winner in Michigan and Wisconsin, he led the vote count in Arizona, and outstanding votes in Pennsylvania were expected to put him ahead of Trump. The results in Georgia were also too close to call. The networks and wire services were hesitant to call the election for Biden.
“I don’t think it’s going to turn,” Fabrizio recalled telling Klein. “Maybe one switches, but I don’t see all three switching,” he said of the states where Biden was leading.
Fabrizio is a protege of Arthur Finkelstein, the late conservative campaign guru and longtime election advisor for Netanyahu, and worked as a pollster on Netanyahu’s 2020 re-election campaign.
On Nov. 7, hours after the media called the election for Biden, Netanyahu tweeted his congratulations to the president-elect, saying he’s looking forward to working with him “to further strengthen the special alliance between the U.S. and Israel.” Five hours later, Netanyahu issued congratulations to Biden in a video statement.
Trump still refuses to accept his defeat and expressed outrage at Netanyahu long after Biden’s inauguration. “F**k him,” Trump said in an interview with Israeli journalist Barak Ravid last April, describing his feelings toward Netanyahu’s acceptance of Biden’s victory. “He was very early – like, earlier than most. And not only did he congratulate him, he did it on tape.”