President Donald Trump, in an early morning Twitter rage, complained his election observers were banned from watching votes being counted even as his own lawyer conceded to a Philadelphia judge that the campaign had people in the room.
Trump complained about the election tallies in a 2:22 a.m. tweet that Twitter flagged as having incorrect information – an accusation from the president that follows his 17-minute rant in the White House press room that was filled with inaccuracies about the vote counting process.
‘I easily WIN the Presidency of the United States with LEGAL VOTES CAST. The OBSERVERS were not allowed, in any way, shape, or form, to do their job and therefore, votes accepted during this period must be determined to be ILLEGAL VOTES. U.S. Supreme Court should decide!,’ Trump wrote and Twitter flagged.
A minute later the president added: ‘Twitter is out of control, made possible through the government gift of Section 230!’
But Trump’s campaign lawyer conceded to a Philadelphia judge on Thursday that the president’s team did have election observers in the room to watch mail-in ballots be counted in Pennsylvania.
‘I’m sorry, then what’s your problem?’ said U.S. District Judge Paul Diamond, a President George W. Bush appointee, after Trump lawyers conceded that observers had been admitted to the facility.
President Trump complained his campaign was not allowed to have observers watch ballot counting but, above, members of both the Democratic and Republican Party watch as Lehigh County workers count ballots in Allentown, Pa.
A Republican observer, center, watches as Lehigh County workers count ballots
Timothy A. Benyon, right, Chief Clerk of the Lehigh County Board of Elections, hands out the result of the latest batch of counted ballots to election observers
National Guard members stand guard near Philadelphia City Hall after police probed an alleged plot to attack vote counting venue
The Trump campaign was trying to get an injunction to halt vote counting in Philadelphia, a heavily Democratic area that was expected to add to Joe Biden’s vote total.
They argued their observers had been unfairly barred from parts of the city’s ballot-counting area inside the Pennsylvania Convention Center.
But, under questioning, Trump lawyer Jerome Marcus conceded: ‘There’s a non-zero number of people in the room.’
Diamond urged the Trump campaign and the Philadelphia election board to come to a resolution. The two parties ultimately agreed that a fixed number of observers from each campaign — up to sixty — could be admitted, according to NPR.
The Trump’s campaign suit was then dismissed as moot.
The Trump campaign has launched a series of lawsuits in battleground states as the presidential election inches toward a winner.
Biden has gained ground in Pennsylvania as the state counts its mail-in ballots. Millions of voters used that option due to the coronavirus pandemic. Democrats used the mail-in option more that Republicans. Biden encouraged Democrats to vote earlier and Trump encouraged his supporters to vote on Election Day.
Trump leads by about 18,000 votes in Pennsylvania – with roughly 163,000 mail-in ballots still statewide, which includes more than 58,000 in the heavily-Democratic Philadelphia – and the state is expected to release another tranche of votes on Friday morning.
Biden overhauled Trump’s lead in deep-red Georgia in the early hours of Friday as mail-in ballots were counted, carving out a lead of 917 votes that grew to 1,096 votes as the morning wore in.
There are around 10,000 votes left to count, with a further trend in Biden’s favor expected.
If Trump can’t carry Georgia, he has no path to the 270 votes needed to win the White House.
A Democrat last won Georgia in the 1992 presidential election and it would be a serious flip if Biden carries it.
If Biden takes Georgia, then he only needs to hold his lead in either Nevada or Arizona – where he is currently ahead by 11,000 votes and 46,000 votes respectively – to be declared the winner. Results in both states are expected later today.
Trump continues to fight for a second term, making unsubstantiated allegations of electoral fraud.
The president renewed those attacks on Thursday night in his first TV appearance since Election Day itself, where he called the entire presidential election into question, claiming it was rigged against him from start to finish by a vast conspiracy.
In his 17-minute tirade he claimed he was the victim of ‘big media, big money and big tech’ coming together to commit ‘historic election interference’ to give Biden the presidency.
He claimed that if all ‘legal votes’ were counted he would win the election as he charged Democrats with trying to steal the contest ‘corruptly’ through mail-in ballots.
All three broadcast networks – ABC, CBS and NBC – cut away from the press conference before it finished, warning their viewers that Trump had made ‘a number of false statements’ that needed clarifying.
Biden also gave a speech Thursday, calling for calm and patience while the votes are counted, insisting once again that when the dust has settled he will have beaten Trump.
‘Democracy is sometimes messy. It sometimes requires a little patience as well,’ the former vice president said from the stage of Wilmington’s Queen theater late Thursday afternoon.
‘So I ask everyone to stay calm, all people to stay calm. The process is working. The count is being completed and we’ll know very soon.’
He also tweeted: ‘No one is going to take our democracy away from us. Not now, not ever. America has come too far, fought too many battles, and endured too much to let that happen.
‘Keep the faith, folks.’
Meanwhile Donald Trump Jr gave a speech in Georgia, where Trump’s lead is now just a few hundred votes, calling for his father to ‘fight to the death’ and urging him to ‘go to war’ to ‘expose all of the fraud that has been going on for far too long.’
‘Americans need to know that this is not a banana republic and right now very few people have faith that’s not the case,’ he added.
At the podium in the briefing room on Thursday night, President Trump read from from a script and listed his grievances at Biden’s campaign, ‘suppression polls’ and ‘fraud.’
He left without taking a question as CNN’s White House reporter Jim Acosta shouted: ‘Are you a sore loser?’ – then his press secretary Kayleigh McEnany had to scuttle back to the podium because he had forgotten to take his notes with him.
Trust me I won: Donald Trump takes to the White House briefing room podium to claim he won
End of the show: As Trump spoke from the White House podium TV network after TV network turned off his conspiracy-theory laden tirade
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Forgotten and almost lost: Trump left his prepared script, in giant text and scrawled on with sharpie at the podium and it had to be retrieved by press secretary Kayleigh McEnany
Damning verdict: Larry Hogan, the Republican Maryland governor became its most senior voice to speak out. Adam Kinzinger is a Republican congressman from Illinois who was one of the first of his party to slam Trump
Republicans also turned on Trump within minutes with Larry Hogan, the Maryland governor, saying: ‘There is no defense. No person or election is more important than our democracy.’ Republican Congressman Adam Klinzinger called it ‘insane.’
At the briefing room podium – where the only aide with him was White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnanany – Trump appeared downcast as he listed his enemies and claimed a victory which nobody has handed to him.
‘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 said during what he called a press conference.
Trump, whose campaign has launched lawsuits in several battleground states, spoke more about the polls than he did about his own campaign, calling them ‘phony’ and ‘suppression polls,’ claiming that errors by pollsters were a deliberate attempt to keep his supporters at home.
Then he turned on his own party saying that because of him was no ‘blue wave,’ referring to Democrats’ failure to win the Senate and add to their majority in the House.
‘We won by historic numbers. And the pollsters got it knowingly wrong, they got it knowingly wrong. We had polls that were so ridiculous and everybody knew it at the time. There was no blue wave that they predicted,’ Trump said.
Trump had not been seen for more than 36 hours after appearing in the White House East Room at 2.30am on Wednesday morning in front of cheering fans in MAGA hats to claim then that he had ‘won.’
And the blizzard of litigation President Trump promised had been beset throughout the day by problems.
In Georgia, superior court judge James Bass said there was ‘no evidence’ to the Trump suit’s claims that a 53 ballots arrived late and got mixed with other ballots. In Michigan, Judge Cynthia Stephens ruled against the Trump campaign’s push to stop the count in order to gain additional access for its observers. ‘I have no basis to find that there is a substantial likelihood of success on the merits,’ she said.
In Nevada, he sent Ric Grenell, his former acting director of national intelligence to announce legal claims that out of state residents had been voting.
But the press conference went badly wrong when Grenell refused to say what his name was and was laughed at by reporters then chased into a van refusing to answer questions on what evidence he had.