Donald Trump falsely blamed “illegal” votes as his path to another term narrowed on Thursday, claiming without evidence that he was being cheated out of a victory by Joe Biden — a bridge too far for at least one cable newser.
“They are trying to steal the election, they are trying to rig an election, and we can’t let that happen,” he griped about the results in Michigan, won by Biden, in an appearance in the White House briefing room. It was his first time before the cameras since early Wednesday morning, when he was in a far more celebratory mood. Watch the video below.
Ahead in the popular vote and in the Electoral College, former VP Biden is within striking distance of the presidency as more and more votes in battleground states are going his way.
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“If you count the legal votes I easily win,” Trump said at the outset. “If you count the illegal votes, they can try to steal the election from us.” He appeared to be talking about mail in ballots, which have heavily favored Biden but have long been a legal part of the electoral process.
He also claimed, without evidence, that polls showing a potential “blue wave” were a suppression tactic.
CNN and Fox news carried Trump’s remarks in their entirety, but MSNBC took just the start of his statement; Shepard Smith on sibling net CNBC following suit awhile later. The three broadcast networks, CBS, ABC and NBC, also carried the speech, but the Comcast-own outlet joined its cable cousin in the last few minutes and cut away. The Disney-owned network also dropped the feed from the White House near the end of Trump’s tirade.
Within a few minutes of Trump talking, MSNBC anchors Brian Williams and Ari Melber went to a live fact check of the former Celebrity Apprentice host’s outrageous remarks. Melber then finished an interview with Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs.
“A number of the networks stayed with the President’s comments that he’s been cheated out of a victory, there were phony polls designed to keep people at home,” said Williams to fellow anchor Rachel Maddow right afterwards. “We’ll get a read-out, a summation of the points he is still making from the briefing room,” the former NBC Nightly News frontman added, before going to instead look into where the votes stand in the battleground states. That was followed by a commercial break, but no more Trump on the cabler newser. Later, Williams said, “We chose to cut away because he wasn’t telling the truth.”
Over on NBC, Lester Holt said, “We are watching President Trump speaking live from the White House and we have to interrupt here because the president made a number of false statements including the notion that there has been fraudulent voting. There has been no evidence of that. Allegations by his campaign but his campaign spokespeople unable to provide any evidence. He also has suggested that the polls and many of which were incorrect were somehow the product of election interference.”
On ABC News, David Muir went to a fact check, pointing out that the delay in the results is due to the overwhelming number of mail-in ballots received.
Jon Karl, the network’s chief White House correspondent, said, “There is simply no evidence presented in any of these states that there are illegal votes.”
CBS News also did a fact check, with anchor Norah O’Donnell turning to Nancy Cordes, chief congressional correspondent.
Cordes noted that Trump said, “It’s amazing how the mail-in ballots are so one sided for Vice President Biden.”
“Well, again, that’s not amazing,” Cordes said. “President Trump told his voters not to vote by mail. He said vote by mail was illegitimate, to the great frustration of a number of Republicans who know that that is typically a strength for their party. So it is not a big surprise that vice president Biden has the edge in voting by mail.”
— CBS News (@CBSNews) November 6, 2020
During his appearance, Trump also vowed to pursue legal action, even to the Supreme Court. “We think we will win the election very easily, we think there will be a lot of litigation,” he said.
Trump said during the campaign that the only way that he thought he would lose was if the election was “rigged,” so that he followed through with his claim is not a surprise. But there is concern that his attempt to delegitimizing the election will only trigger unrest among some of his most fervent supporters. Earlier in the day, Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr. wrote on Twitter, “The best thing for America’s future is for @realDonaldTrump to go to total war over this election to expose all of the fraud, cheating, dead/no longer in state voters, that has been going on for far too long.” Twitter then slapped a label on the tweet.
After the president ended his remarks, CNN’s Jake Tapper said, “What a sad night for the United States of America.” Tapper called the scene “ugly” and “pathetic.”
Anderson Cooper said, “That is the president of the United States. That is the most powerful person in the world. We see him like an obese turtle on his back flailing in the hot sun, realizing his time is over.”
Here is Trump’s speech in its entirety. His remarks begin at the 18:10 mark:
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