Donald Trump Gets Ready to Manufacture a 2020 Election Crisis

Donald Trump Gets Ready to Manufacture a 2020 Election Crisis

President Donald Trump, his campaign, and his supporters are gearing up to manufacture a political crisis on Election Day.

The president declared at a rally on Sunday that the winner of Tuesday’s presidential contest must be declared by the end of the day—never mind that states routinely take days or even weeks to tally up presidential vote totals and certify official results. The comments came shortly after a report from Axios that the president is planning to preemptively declare himself the winner on Tuesday if early returns from in-person voters, in enough states to give him an electoral college win, appear to be tilting in his direction—even though the full tally of mail-in votes from states, which are expected to more heavily favor Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, will still be out.

Trump denied the report. But in a quick briefing with reporters, he pledged that his team of lawyers would move quickly the night of the election to petition the courts to, ostensibly, challenge the legitimacy of a category of ballots that were mailed in before the end of Election Day but arrived after it was over. Different states have different laws that govern those ballots, but the Supreme Court has already ruled, in several cases, to allow their submission based on the applicability of state laws. Trump called the court’s rulings “terrible.”

“We’re not gonna let that happen to us with these ballots,” he had declared at a campaign stop earlier in the day. “Does this mean we go and we wait, so it’s not Nov. 3, it’s much later than that? We should know the result of the election Nov. 3, the evening of Nov. 3. That’s the way it’s been and that’s the way it should be.”

In fact, that’s not the way it’s ever been in the history of American elections. Vote counts routinely continue in the days after presidential elections. No state has ever reported its final presidential vote tally on the day of an election. And unofficial projections by news organizations gaming out election returns and exit polls as they come in have famously resulted in retractions as more votes are counted.

The Trump campaign nonetheless sought to falsely portray votes counted after Nov. 3—as millions of votes are every election—as votes “stolen” from the president’s re-election effort. “President Trump will be ahead on election night, probably getting 280 electoral [votes], somewhere in that range, and then they’re going to try to steal it back after the election,” declared senior campaign adviser Jason Miller on ABC’s This Week on Sunday.

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