Donald Trump unilaterally declared victory in Pennsylvania just before the end of the campaign count, a highly unusual move that has no legal basis or precedent.
Campaign director Bill Steppen said Wednesday that he was “declaring victory in Pennsylvania” by counting less than 60 percent of the vote.
Following similar announcements by White House Press Secretaries Caleh McKenney and Eric Trump, the presidency seemed to be a concerted effort to disrupt the counting of legitimate ballots in a state that was dramatically narrowing.
The campaign also announced that a lawsuit was being filed in Pennsylvania to temporarily suspend the vote count, citing a lack of “transparency” in the counting process.
Justin Clark, Trump’s deputy campaign manager, said the campaign was “a lawsuit to prevent Democrat election officials from hiding ballot counts and processing from our Republican poll observers.”
He said the campaign “seeks to temporarily suspend the count until there is meaningful transparency and that Republicans can ensure that all counts have been completed in accordance with the board and the law.”
Mr Trump’s personal lawyer was scheduled to hold a news conference outside the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia on Wednesday afternoon, he wrote on Twitter, adding that there was “massive fraud” without any evidence. “[Donald Trump] Philly Democrat hacks up to 550,000 with 7550 counts won’t let it steal! “He added.
A small crowd gathered outside the center in front of the press conference, which was abruptly canceled 10 minutes before it started.
Attempts to undermine the count in Pennsylvania have been followed by months of attacks on the Trump campaign and the mail president himself, who have claimed without evidence that they are at risk of fraud.
Mr. Trump currently leads the state, but the remaining votes counted are absentee ballots in urban areas that have strongly supported Democrats.
Joe Biden’s campaign says they are hopeful the final count will give the former vice president a lead of 70,000 to 100,000 votes.
The Supreme Court had earlier ruled that Pennsylvania was allowed to count the votes received in the mail three days after the polls closed.
Pennsylvania State Secretary Kathy Buckover told a news conference shortly before noon on Wednesday that the state had counted about 50 percent of its mail-in ballot, with millions more to go.
Mrs Bookver said more than 3 million mail-in ballots had been cast – ten times more than in the previous election.
“It really couldn’t have gone any easier in the midst of the epidemic,” he said. “We were exactly where we said we would be.”
He said they were determined to “count every single ballot accurately”, adding that military and foreign ballots were still to be counted.
In September, the state Supreme Court granted an extended three-day deadline after election day to return the mail-in ballot. The Pennsylvania State Department has ruled that all ballots received in the three-day window will be counted, but will be kept separate.
The Supreme Court rejected a state Republican plea to overturn the state court’s decision, but left the door open for a review of the isolated ballot after the election.