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.”