U.S. President Donald Trump erupted in a tirade of unsubstantiated claims Thursday that he had been cheated of winning the U.S. elections as battlefield nation vote counts showed Democrat Joe Biden was steadily approaching victory.
“They are trying to steal the elections,” said Trump in an extraordinary statement in the White House two days after the polls were closed.
Trump did not provide evidence and subsequently did not answer questions from reporters in the room. He used the nearly 17-minute remarks to make the kind of fiery statements about the country’s democratic process that had never been heard before by a US president.
According to Trump, Democrats were using “illegal votes” to “steal our elections”.
“If you count the legal votes, I win easily,” he said. “You’re trying to manipulate a choice. And we can’t let that happen.”
Beyond the rhetoric, Trump’s complaints were specifically aimed at the integrity of the large number of ballots sent in, rather than hand in them on election day.
The major shift to postal voting this year reflected voters’ desire to avoid the risk of exposure to Covid-19 in crowded polling stations during a pandemic that has already killed more than 230,000 Americans.
However, with Trump frequently denying the severity of the virus and telling his supporters not to support postal voting, far fewer Republicans used the option than Democrats.
Several major U.S. television networks stopped broadcasting live coverage of Trump’s event shortly after it launched, and MSNBC cited the need to correct false claims made by the president.
Biden comes closer
Trump’s ranting came when returns from undeclared states across the country showed Biden was headed for victory.
77-year-old Biden was only a battlefield state or two away from the majority to take the White House. 74-year-old Trump took an increasingly unlikely combination of victories in multiple states to stay in power.
In comments to reporters in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, Biden said, “We continue to feel very good.”
“We have no doubt that Senator (Kamala) Harris and I will be declared winners when the count is complete,” he said.
Trump, who shocked the world in 2016 when he won the presidency when he took office for the first time, made a series of written statements before making the White House appearance – the first in public since Tuesday’s election night.
Biden, who has promised to heal a country hit by Trump’s extraordinarily polarizing four years in power, appealed to “people to keep calm”.
“The process is working,” he said in Wilmington. “The count is complete. And we’ll know soon.”
All About Pennsylvania?
In Georgia, a general republican state, Trump had a wafer-thin and steadily slipping lead of less than 3,500 votes. With 98 percent of the ballots already counted, the President and Biden were on their way to a photo finish.
In Arizona and Nevada, Biden held onto lean leads. If Biden wins both states, he would win the presidency too.
But the biggest piece of the puzzle was Pennsylvania, where Trump’s early leadership continued to wane as election officials looked into processing postal ballot papers, which are more likely to be submitted by Biden supporters.
Democratic hope currently has 253 of the 538 votes of the electoral college, which are distributed among the 50 states of the country. He called 264 in his favor with the Arizona inclusion, Fox News and Associated Press, but other large organizations did not.
If Biden were to take Pennsylvania, he would get 20 more votes for the electoral college, immediately raising the 270 votes required for overall victory.
With just over 325,000 ballots outstanding, Pennsylvania’s official electoral regulator, Kathy Boockvar, told a press early that evening that she was unable to estimate a full census.
“It’s very close to Pennsylvania, isn’t it?” Said Boockvar. “That means it will take longer to actually see who the winner is.”
Latest results showed that Trump’s lead in the state had shrunk to around 61,000 votes
Trump tries to stop the count
Trump’s campaign continued to insist that the president has a path to victory, citing pockets of Republican support that have not yet been counted in such close races.
But Trump’s overwhelming focus was on claiming without evidence that he was a victim of mass fraud.
Trump declared victory ahead of schedule on Wednesday and threatened Supreme Court intervention to end the vote count, but it continued anyway.
Since then, his team has spread across battlefield states, contesting the results in court, holding a series of press conferences at which supporters have raised allegations of irregularities.
“STOP THE COUNT!” Trump tweeted the previous Thursday, citing his unsupported claim that the mail-in ballots in particular were fraudulent.
But while Trump demanded that counting be stopped in Georgia and Pennsylvania – where he leads – his supporters and campaign insisted that it continue in Arizona and Nevada, where he lags.
The campaign has announced lawsuits in Georgia, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Michigan – where it has already been dismissed – and called for a recount in Wisconsin, where Biden won by just 20,000 votes.
Bob Bauer, a lawyer for the Biden campaign, dismissed the numerous lawsuits as “unfounded”.
“All of this is supposed to create a big cloud,” said Bauer. “But it’s not a very thick cloud. We’re looking through it. So are the courts and the election officials.”
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and published from a syndicated feed.)