In an early morning statement from the White House, US president Donald Trump falsely claimed that he had already won re-election, reviving concerns that he may not accept the final result if he is defeated.
The president vowed to block any further counting of ballots, even as state officials in several crucial battlegrounds with close races were still tallying votes.
The remarks made by Mr Trump — who was surrounded by a group of top aides and supporters, as well as vice-president Mike Pence — break from the tradition of US presidential contenders waiting until a concession from their rival to claim victory. The comments were rapidly criticised by Joe Biden’s campaign as “a naked effort to take away the democratic rights of American citizens”.
Here we fact-check key quotes from the president’s statement:
I want to thank the American people for their tremendous support, millions and millions of people voted for us tonight. And a very sad group of people is trying to disenfranchise that group of people and we won’t stand for it. We will not stand for it.
There is no evidence of any effort to “disenfranchise” Americans who voted for Mr Trump. Rather, state officials are still tallying ballots that were legitimately cast, including those favouring the incumbent US president.
It’s also clear that we have won Georgia. We’re up by 2.5 per cent or 117,000 votes with only 7 per cent left. They’re never going to catch us. They can’t catch us.
The vote count is not complete in Georgia, a battleground state, and the Associated Press has not called the state for Mr Biden or Mr Trump yet. Many of the remaining votes are in the Atlanta area, which is heavily Democratic, so while Mr Trump is ahead now, it could flip.
You know what happened? They knew they couldn’t win so they said, ‘Let’s go to court’ . . . I’ve been saying this from the day I heard they were going to send out tens of millions of ballots.
Throughout the campaign Mr Trump has been claiming — without evidence — that the use of mail-in ballots, which was expanded because of the pandemic, would lead to widespread fraud. He repeated that claim on Wednesday morning.
This is a fraud on the American public. This is an embarrassment to our country. We were getting ready to win this election. Frankly, we did win this election. We did win this election.
Mr Trump claimed that a “fraud” was being perpetrated on the American public, without any evidence of wrongdoing — and prematurely claimed victory in the election.
The Associated Press has not called the election for either Mr Trump or Mr Biden, and state election officials have not yet certified a result. The Democratic challenger has not conceded defeat. Mr Biden still has a good chance of prevailing, albeit narrowly, once all the votes are counted.
We want the law to be used in a proper manner. So we’ll be going to the US Supreme Court. We want all voting to stop. We don’t want them to find any ballots at four o’clock in the morning and add them to the list.
Mr Trump quickly invoked America’s highest court, where there is a solid conservative majority, suggesting it might intervene to deliver him victory.
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Any potential legal challenge would have to be filed on a state-by-state basis in either state or federal court before winding its way up to the Supreme Court.
The courts are unlikely to halt counts in general as Mr Trump demanded — there is nothing unlawful or inappropriate about counting all legitimately cast ballots — but the Trump campaign may argue that certain ballots were cast unlawfully, for example.
The main precedent for a Supreme Court intervention is the race between George W Bush and Al Gore in 2000, when the court halted a recount in Florida in December after weeks of tension and litigation.