Trump erupts as Biden closes in on US presidency |
WASHINGTON, Nov 6 — President Donald Trump erupted yesterday in a tirade of unsubstantiated claims that he has been cheated out of winning the US election as vote counting across battleground states showed Democrat Joe Biden steadily closing in on victory.
“They are trying to steal the election,” Trump said in an extraordinary statement at the White House two days after polls closed.
Providing no evidence and taking no questions afterward from reporters in the room, Trump used the remarks of nearly 17 minutes to make the kind of incendiary statements about the country’s democratic process that have never been heard before from a US president.
According to Trump, Democrats were using “illegal votes” to “steal the election from us.”
“If you count the legal votes, I easily win,” he claimed. “They’re trying to rig an election. And we can’t let that happen.”
Beyond the rhetoric, Trump’s complaints were specifically targeting the integrity of the huge number of ballots mailed in, rather than cast in person on Election Day.
The big shift to postal ballots this year reflected the desire of voters to avoid risking exposure to Covid-19 in crowded polling stations during a pandemic that has already killed more than 230,000 Americans.
However, because Trump often denied the seriousness of the virus and told his supporters not to support mail-in ballots, far fewer Republicans took advantage of the option, compared to Democrats.
Several major US television networks cut away from live coverage of Trump’s event soon after it started, with MSNBC citing the need to correct false claims by the president.
Biden closes in
Trump’s rant came as returns from still undeclared states around the country showed Biden trending toward victory.
Biden, 77, was just one or at most two battleground states away from securing the majority to take the White House. Trump, 74, needed an increasingly unlikely combination of wins 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 when the count is finished, Senator (Kamala) Harris and I will be declared the winners,” he said.
Trump, who shocked the world in 2016 when he won the presidency in his first ever run for public office, lashed out in a series of written statements before holding the White House appearance — the first in public since the night of Tuesday’s election.
Biden, who has promised to heal a country bruised by Trump’s extraordinarily polarizing four years in power, appealed for “people to stay calm.”
“The process is working,” he said in Wilmington. “The count is being completed. And we will know soon.” — AFP