President Donald Trump on Thursday descended into madness, staging a corrosive and potentially dangerous attempt at undermining the US election on Thursday, baselessly claiming the presidency was being stolen from underneath him as vote counts showed his path to victory evaporating.
Using the White House briefing room to peddle baseless claims, the President insisted that he is being deprived of a second term by fraud. He claimed that a count of legally cast ballots would show him winning against former Vice President Joe Biden. He also complained that in certain states where he had been leading on election night, tallies have been “whittled down” or have shown his rival leading.
Standing at the podium and sweating, Trump thrust into question the democratic notion of a peaceful transition of power should Biden win. Instead, he suggested he would fight in the courts until the election is decided in his favor.
“This is a case where they’re trying to steal an election, they’re trying to rig an election, and we can’t let that happen,” Trump said in a dour monotone, providing no evidence and departing the room without answering for his false claims.
The spectacle, though foreshadowed by the President for months, was nevertheless a sign of Trump’s unwillingness to cede the White House without a prolonged battle. Even as he complained that his own race had been rigged, Trump used the occasion to trumpet down-ballot wins by Republicans without explaining why those races wouldn’t be similarly afflicted by his claims of fraud.
His message came as new tallies show his lead dwindling in Georgia and Pennsylvania, where mail-in ballots are still being counted.
Trump spent the past six months decrying the use of mail-in ballots, a strategy even some Republicans feared would suppress his own totals. While Trump retains a pathway to 270 electoral votes, it has grown smaller by the hour.
Senior advisers privately acknowledged the math simply wasn’t on their side and were preparing for a loss. Others privately acknowledged the chances of Trump winning are now slim and were contemplating their next career steps.
“Watching Trump’s lead in states evaporate or disappear because of mail-in votes is some galactic-level karma,” said a frustrated Trump adviser.