Breaking a 36-hour silence after prematurely declaring victory on Wednesday, Donald Trump continued spewing unfounded conspiracy theories about election fraud and illegal ballot-counting as he addressed Americans from the White House on Thursday.
“If you count the legal votes, I easily win,” the president claimed on Thursday, falsely alleging local elections officials had accepted ballots after Election Day and were padding the stats for his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden.
Several news outlets and forecasters project that it is in fact Mr Biden who is on the verge of sealing an Electoral College victory and thus the presidency.
The Trump campaign has provided no evidence for their claims that the votes being tabulated from absentee ballots were cast fraudulently. States like Georgia, Nevada, Arizona and Pennsylvania have taken longer to call because of absentee ballots, but that’s only because it takes workers longer to count those votes, not because of “voter fraud.”
For days now, Mr Trump and his camp of political loyalists have cast doubt on the vote-counting process because the president led on Election Night in the battleground states of Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania before they started counting the rest of their absentee ballots.
Michigan and Wisconsin have been called for Mr Biden, and Georgia and Pennsylvania have been trending that way since Wednesday.
Defying ongoing election results, Mr Trump claimed on Thursday he had "won the state" of Michigan and "did likewise" in Wisconsin — both false statements.
“We were winning a lot and then our numbers started getting whittled away in secret,” the president complained.
States have long warned that counting the votes would take longer due to the increased absentee ballots amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The president’s inaccuracies and misrepresentations about the 2020 election even extended to his praise of the House GOP for winning back several districts in the congressional elections.
“This was the year of the Republican woman. More Republican women were elected to Congress than ever before,” Mr Trump said, one of his few factual statements from the press conference.
But he followed that up with another false claim that Republicans did not lose a single House seat. That is not true. They lost two seats in North Carolina and a seat in the Georgia suburbs.
The president, whom election forecasters are predicting is likely to lose the Electoral College to Mr Biden, has been trafficking a steady stream of misinformation through Twitter as he clung to leads in tallies in the key swing states of Pennsylvania and Georgia on Thursday.
But the mail-in ballots that have been reported in those states have been trending towards Mr Biden since Wednesday morning, and the Democratic former vice president appears poised to surpass Mr Trump.
No secretary of state in any of the key swing states has backed Mr Trump and his campaign team’s claims of voter fraud.
The Trump campaign’s baseless claims of a stolen election and rampant voter fraud contrast sharply with the message from Mr Biden, the Democratic nominee who appeared by Thursday on the precipice of victory.
The Democratic former vice president has urged Americans to be “calm” as state and local election officials across the country continue counting and reporting ballots that were legally cast on or by Election Day on Tuesday.
“Democracy is sometimes messy, so sometimes it requires a little patience,” Mr Biden told reporters gathered in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware in brief remarks on Thursday. “But that patience has been rewarded now for more than 240 years with a system of governance that has been the envy of the world.”
America and the world were waiting on Thursday on the outcome of five states — Georgia, Nevada, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Arizona — which will determine the next occupant of the Oval Office.
“In America, the vote is sacred. It's how people in this nation express their will,” Mr Biden said.
“And it is the will of the voters, not anything else, that chooses the president of the United States of America.”
The Associated Press has already called Arizona for Mr Biden, placing him at 264 electoral votes, six shy of the threshold required to win the White House. But the margin there has tightened since that projection made early Wednesday morning and several other news outlets have not made the same call.
Even if Mr Trump manages to take the lead in Arizona, he would still need to win Pennsylvania, where he has had a dwindling lead as officials continue tabulating mail-in ballots. If Mr Biden overtakes Mr Trump in Pennsylvania and that race is called, that would give him 273 Electoral College votes, and thus the presidency — even if he were to lose in Arizona, Nevada and Georgia.
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