In a White House speech without precedent in American history, President Trump flailed at the media, pollsters, election officials, mail-in voting, judges and Democrat-led U.S. cities Thursday evening, as his rival Joe Biden continued to inch toward a win in the 2020 election.
“If you count the legal votes, I easily win,” Trump said, though no state allows the counting of illegally cast votes. “If you count the illegal votes, they can try to steal the election from us.”
Again and again, the president portrayed the counting of legally cast mail-in ballots as improper — an assault on American democracy by the president himself.
“Our numbers started miraculously getting whittled away, in secret,” Trump said, again without evidence. “This is a case where they’re trying to steal an election. They’re trying to rig an election. And we can’t let that happen.”
There is no evidence to suggest that election fraud has occurred in any statistically significant way, either this year or in past ones. What is different this year is that a record number of Americans cast their ballots early, either via mail or in person, to avoid the crowds that typically show up on Election Day. For months, Trump has downplayed the possible health risks of the worsening coronavirus pandemic, holding large campaign rallies and encouraging his supporters to vote in person on Nov. 3.
Election Day votes were counted first in many crucial states, creating the illusion that Trump was winning.
After staying out of the public eye for the last two days, Trump called what the White House billed as a “press conference,” which former counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway said would consist of the president describing “the state of the race from his perspective.”
Trump then railed against “historic election interference from big media, big money and big tech.” He accused pollsters of attempting to suppress the vote by “getting it knowingly wrong” in their surveys.
“We grew our party by 4 million voters, the greatest turnout in Republican Party history,” Trump said. While that part was true, he left out that Democrats had also turned out a record number of voters this year and that Trump trails Biden in the popular vote by nearly 4 million.
The president also took aim at the states where votes are still being counted, implying that Democrats there were working to skew the results in Biden’s favor.
“There are now only a few states set to be decided in the presidential race. The voting apparatus in those states are run in all cases by Democrats,” Trump said, falsely. Vote counting is ongoing in Republican-led Arizona, where Trump hopes to erase Joe Biden’s lead. He hasn’t demanded a halt in the process there.
Mail-in voting has “destroyed our system,” Trump said, although it has been done in many states for decades. He said it “makes people corrupt even if they aren’t by nature.”
“They want to find out how many votes they need and then they seem to be able to find them,” Trump claimed. “They wait and wait and then they find them.”
As Trump spoke, Trump’s lead was dwindling in Georgia and Pennsylvania. A Biden win in the latter state would make him the next president, as would a victory in Georgia in combination with wins in Arizona or Nevada, states where Trump is behind. Biden is believed on course to overtake Trump late Thursday in both Pennsylvania and Georgia.
Some members of Trump’s party sought to distance themselves from the president upon hearing his remarks.
On CNN, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum called his speech “not factual and incendiary.”
But Trump vowed to push ahead with numerous lawsuits — although he has lost almost all those cases so far — and with his attempts to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the outcome.
“We think we will win the election very easily. We think there’s going to be a lot of litigation because we have so much evidence, we have so much proof,” Trump said without detailing said proof. “It’s going to end up, perhaps, at the highest court in the land. We’ll see.”
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