On Thursday, President Trump challenged the electoral process and claimed that the election was being stolen from him, without any proof.
Trump made the remarks as part of a written statement that he mostly stuck with as Democratic candidate Joe Biden closed in on the 270 electoral votes needed to become president-elect and end Trump’s time in the Oval Office.
Trump has seen his path to 270 electoral votes greatly narrow, and said that he believed he would ultimately win the election and promised a lengthy legal fight to challenge the results.
“If you count the legal votes, I easily win. If you count the illegal votes, they can try to steal the election from us. If you count the votes that came in late, we’re looking at them very strongly,” Trump told reporters.
Fox News projected Biden as the winner of Arizona, and has the former vice president with 264 electoral votes. Biden is leading in Nevada, which has six electoral votes.
Trump is currently ahead in Pennsylvania, but his lead is narrowing by the hour as heavily-Democratic absentee ballots are counted last. The Biden campaign believes when vote counting is completed, Biden will win the Keystone State’s 20 electoral votes.
A number of outside observers also think Biden is likely to pull ahead in Pennsylvania. These observers see Georgia as a tighter race. Georgia has 16 electoral votes.
Biden doesn’t necessarily need to win Pennsylvania or Georgia to get to 270 if he emerges in Arizona and Nevada as the winner, underscoring his different routes to the White House. Trump likely needs to win three of the four barring an unforeseen development.
Trump’s argument was contradictory at times on Thursday. He claimed that he had already won states like Michigan, Georgia and Pennsylvania, where votes are still being counted and his lead is dwindling, and that he was “on track to win Arizona,” a state where Biden is leading but his advantage has narrowed in the last 24 hours.
The president disparaged urban areas like Philadelphia and Detroit, which are heavily Democratic, as corrupt, and he bemoaned that they “cannot be responsible for engineering the outcome of a presidential race.”
Trump aired grievances against Democrats, the media and social media companies, claiming that they were engaged in “electoral interference.” Trump singled out polls leading up to the election that showed him trailing Biden by more than he lost in some states, saying they were meant to deliberately hurt his chances.
“Media polling was election interference, in the truest sense of that word by powerful special interests. These, really, phony polls … were designed to keep our voters at home, create the illusion of momentum for Mr. Biden and diminish republicans ability to raise funds. They were what’s called suppression polls,” Trump said.
But the president’s allies have been unable to provide any concrete evidence of fraud or nefarious activity related to the tabulation of ballots.
“I am not aware of any significant level of fraud that’s going on. Nobody has brought anything to my attention that causes me to say ‘there’s a huge case of fraud that needs to be immediately addressed,’” Senator Pat Toomey said on CNN earlier Thursday.
Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer told SiriusXM that he had not seen evidence of widespread fraud.
Trump’s statements Thursday evening drew rebuke even from some of his Republican allies.
“For the president to claim fraud without any evidence is dangerous,” Rick Santorum, former Republican senator from Pennsylvania said on CNN immediately following Trump’s statement.
The public appearance was the president’s first since early Wednesday morning, when he declared victory in the race even as millions of legal ballots awaited counting.
Further tallies are expected to be announced in Pennsylvania and Arizona later Thursday. It’s possible the race could be called as early as Thursday evening.
Over the past day, Trump’s campaign has mounted several legal challenges related to the vote counting process and demanded a recount in Wisconsin, where Biden won by roughly 20,000 votes.
Trump also tweeted earlier Thursday “stop the count” as officials continued to tally legally-cast ballots, remarks his campaign later said applied to ballots that could have been illegally cast. Trump and his campaign have made allegations of fraud or irregularities in voting without producing evidence to back up their claims.
The president, who drew bipartisan backlash for refusing in October to say he would commit to a peaceful transfer of power, signaled that he was prepared to drag out his disputes about the election for an extended period of time, including by appealing all the way to the Supreme Court.
“It will be, hopefully, cleared up. Maybe soon, I hope soon,” Trump said Thursday night. “But it will probably go through a process, a legal process. And, as you know, I’ve claimed certain states and he’s claiming states. So we can both claim states, but ultimately I have a feeling judges are going to have to rule.