Tensions over the election outcome are escalating in the United States, as President Donald Trump repeated unsubstantiated claims of election fraud.
Nearly a day and a half after Trump prematurely declared victory, he took to the stage at a press conference held in the White House and did so again, arguing 'if you count the legal votes, I easily win. If you count the illegal votes, they can try to steal the election from us.' He also used the opportunity to double down on his assertions of foul play: 'they’re trying to rig an election. They’re trying to steal an election,' he said.
Team Trump has not provided evidence for these serious allegations. The claims remain unfounded, and have drawn criticism for the potential effect his words could have on voters' trust in the democratic process. Major American networks, including ABC and NBC, are reported to have cut away from President's speech. MSNBC dropped the speech to immediately bring in a legal correspondent to rebut Trump's comments.
Trump's remarks further complicate an already messy election, with no winner declared over 48 hours since the first polls closed. The margins, as reported so far, are razor-thin in Nevada, Pennsylvania and Georgia, where mail-in ballots are still being counted.
The President was notably disheartened as he delivered his speech, admitting at one point – perhaps inadvertently – that as vote counting went on he could end up 'down' in states where he had the lead on election night. While Trump came across as a candidate bitterly disappointed about the state of the race, his remarks were far from a concession speech.
The President has already filed several lawsuits across the swing states, despite the results not yet being confirmed. This means that even if states declare in the coming hours or days decisively for one of the candidates, the full process of determining the winner is likely far from over.