President Donald Trump stood on the podium at the White House Thursday evening to make unfounded allegations that Democrats used postal ballot papers to commit massive election fraud to win the presidential election.
The president's allegations appeared to be intended to further ignite the flames of the partisan rancor and undermine the integrity of the 2020 presidential election – especially in the eyes of its most vocal supporters. They also had the potential to spark violence across the country.
Although the claims were presented without evidence and appeared flimsy, some could create the conditions for legal and political struggles in the remaining swing states that will determine the final outcome. Election observers have so far found no pattern of irregularities in the counting of postal ballot papers.
"If you count the legal votes, I win easily," Trump said, seeming to indicate that any postal ballot papers received or counted after election day were invalid. This contradicted public voting data released by the states and caused several news outlets to quickly move away to correct the recording. "If you count the illegal votes, they can try to steal our election," added Trump. He did not take questions from the media.
Trump's unprecedented speech came as Joe Biden continued to take over the presidency Thursday night in Pennsylvania. State officials said thousands of postal ballots from Philadelphia and the surrounding area broke more than 70 percent of the time against the former vice president.
Election workers in Philadelphia, a major Democratic stronghold within the state, count ballots while being overseen by dozens of Republican observers – despite Trump denying they had adequate access. The Philadelphia City Commissioners are too Live streaming The voice counts.
Biden spent much of the day preparing for a possible transition to the White House by learning about the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis with his fellow campaigner, Senator Kamala Harris. In a speech from Wilmington, Delaware, he insisted that states stop counting. "In America, voting is sacred," said Biden. “It is the will of the electorate – nobody, nothing else – that elects the President of the United States of America. So every ballot has to be counted. "
Some Republican lawmakers distanced themselves from the allegations made by the president and his inner circle, claiming they should either produce evidence of fraud or respect the democratic process. In a tweet after the speech, Illinois Republican MP Adam Kinzinger pleaded with the president to "bring EVIDENCE" if he had legitimate concerns about fraud. "STOP Spreading exposed misinformation", Kinzinger wrote. "This is going to be crazy."
“Every legal vote should and is counted – as always. Where there are problems, there are ways to fix them. If someone has evidence of wrongdoing it should be presented and corrected. Anything else damages the integrity of our elections and is dangerous to our democracy. " said Michigan Republican MP Paul Mitchell.
Utah Republican Senator Mitt Romney, a Trump critic who voted for the indictment against the president in January, tweeted after the speech: "Counting every vote is at the heart of our democracy." He didn't mention Trump by name. Rick Santorum, a former Republican presidential candidate and CNN commentator, said Trump's comments were "wrong and very dangerous" and urged Republican lawmakers to stand up against the president.
But Trump's anger over the mail-in vote appeared to be selective. He condemned late-count ballots in Pennsylvania that restricted his conduct there, although there is no question about their validity. At the same time, he praised ballot papers that came late to Arizona and Nevada and put the Biden in the lead in the two western states. With 214 votes after a New York Times Trump would likely have to hold all three states to win re-election.
The comments reflected an increasingly desperate tone from the Trump campaign as the president's path to re-election seemed to narrow steadily. Later that day, Trump dispatched some of his most loyal political lieutenants, including Richard Grenell, Pam Bondi, Rudy Giuliani, and Corey Lewandowski, to critical battlefield states to question the legitimacy of the voting process while his sons Spread unsubstantiated rumors on social media that voting results had been manipulated.
The Trump campaign also escalated litigation, filed lawsuits to stop ballot counting in Pennsylvania, and called for Republicans to be given better access to the voting process. Similar lawsuits have been dismissed in Georgia and Michigan courts.
Just before Trump's utterances, the Democrat John Fetterman, Governor of Pennsylvania, said: “We have just had the biggest election in the history of our state. … For the first time in the history of our state, we held a postal vote. … The only irregularity we had was the President's campaign rolling in a clown car in downtown Philadelphia holding an impromptu press conference saying ridiculous things and making up lies. "
Trump's deputies also made unsubstantiated claims about the voting process. Bondi, a former Florida attorney general, said at a news conference in Philadelphia: "We have won Pennsylvania and want every vote to be counted fairly." At the same time, the Trump campaign filed a lawsuit to stop the ballot count in Pennsylvania. In any case, Trump loyalists have not produced any evidence to support their claims of election fraud.