President Trump has told confidants he will claim a premature victory on Tuesday night if it appears he’s “ahead” — even if the outcome still hinges on uncounted votes in key states like Pennsylvania, three people familiar with his private comments told Axios on Sunday.
According to Axios, Trump plans to declare victory even if the Electoral College outcome still hinges on large numbers of uncounted votes in key states like Pennsylvania.
The president has “privately talked through this scenario in some detail in the last few weeks, describing plans to walk up to a podium on election night and declare he has won,” according to the news outlet. “For this to happen, his allies expect he would need to either win or have commanding leads in Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, Texas, Iowa, Arizona and Georgia.
Why it matters: Trump’s team is preparing to falsely claim that mail-in ballots counted after Nov. 3 — a legitimate count expected to favor Democrats — are evidence of election fraud.”
According to many election prognosticators, Trump will likely appear ahead in Pennsylvania on election night — though the state’s final outcome could change substantially as mail-in ballots are counted over the following days.
“Trump’s team is preparing to claim baselessly that if that process changes the outcome in Pennsylvania from the picture on election night, then Democrats would have ‘stolen’ the election,” Axios reports. “Trump’s advisers have been laying the groundwork for this strategy for weeks, but this is the first account of Trump explicitly discussing his election night intentions.”
Asked for comment, the Trump campaign’s communications director Tim Murtaugh said, “This is nothing but people trying to create doubt about a Trump victory. When he wins, he’s going to say so.”
Trump campaign senior adviser Jason Miller predicted that Trump “will be re-elected handily and no amount of post-election Democratic thievery will be able to change the results.”
Many states have publicly warned that they won’t be done counting mail ballots by Tuesday night.
In Pennsylvania, state law prevents election officials from counting mail-in ballots before Election Day.
Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” today that there could be 10x as many mail ballots this year than in 2016, “so, yes, it will take longer” to count.
“I expect that the overwhelming majority of ballots in Pennsylvania, that’s mail-in and absentee ballots, as well as in-person ballots, will be counted within a matter of days,” Boockvar said.