Biden sees the path to 270; Trump attacks electoral integrity

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WASHINGTON – US President Donald Trump is testing how far he can go by using presidential power traps to undermine confidence in this week’s election against Joe Biden, as the Democrat gained ground in tight contests in some states keys to the battlefield. As his re-election journey appears to be narrowing, Trump on Thursday made unsubstantiated accusations of voter fraud to falsely claim his rival was trying to seize power. It represented an extraordinary effort by a sitting US president to cast doubt on the democratic process.

“This is a case where they are trying to steal an election, they are trying to rig an election,” Trump said from the podium in the White House briefing room.

The president’s remarks deepened a sense of anxiety in the United States as Americans enter their third full day after the election not knowing who will be president for the next four years. His statements also drew a rebuke from some Republicans, especially those who sought to point the party in a different direction in a post-Trump era.

Neither candidate achieved the 270 votes needed in the Electoral College to win the White House. But Biden eclipsed Trump in Wisconsin and Michigan, two crucial Midwestern battlefield states, and moved closer to the president in Pennsylvania and Georgia, where votes were still being counted.

It was unclear when a national winner would be determined after a long and bitter campaign dominated by the coronavirus and its effects on Americans and the national economy. The United States set another record for daily confirmed cases on Wednesday as several states posted all-time highs. The pandemic has killed more than 233,000 people in the United States.

Biden spent Thursday trying to ease tensions and project a more traditional image of presidential leadership. After attending a coronavirus briefing, he said that “every ballot should be counted”.

“I ask everyone to stay calm. The process is working, ”Biden said. “It is the will of the voters. No one, nor anyone else who chooses the President of the United States of America. ”

Biden’s victories in the upper Midwest put him in a position of strength, but Trump has shown no signs of giving up. It could take several days for the vote count to complete and a clear winner to emerge. With millions of ballots yet to be compiled, Biden had already received over 73 million votes, the most in history.

Trump’s flawed assertions about the integrity of the election challenged Republicans to choose to break with a president who, although his grip on his office had become tenuous, won extremely high approval ratings from the government. from GOP base members.

Maryland GOP Governor Larry Hogan, a potential 2024 presidential hopeful who has often criticized Trump, has said unequivocally: “There is no defense for the president’s comments tonight that undermine our democratic process. America counts the votes, and we must respect the results while we always ahead. ”

But others who are rumored to be considering a White House race in four years have lined up with the outgoing president, including Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., Who tweeted his support for Trump’s claims, writing that “If the last 24 hours nothing clear is that we need new electoral integrity laws NOW.

Trump’s campaign has engaged in a wave of legal activity in an attempt to improve the Republican president’s chances, demanding a recount in Wisconsin and filing lawsuits in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Georgia.

Judges in Georgia and Michigan quickly dismissed the Trump campaign’s lawsuits on Thursday.

Trump had a small advantage in Georgia, although Biden won over him as the votes continued to be counted. The same was true in Pennsylvania, where Trump’s lead had grown to around 22,000 votes – and the race is doomed to tighten.

One reason is that election officials were not allowed to process postal ballots until election day under state law. It’s a form of voting that skewed heavily in favor of Biden after Trump spent months arguing without evidence that voting by mail would lead to widespread voter fraud.

Postal ballots across the state crashed in Biden’s direction. A final vote total may not be clear for days as the use of postal ballots, which take longer to process, has increased due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Trump campaign said it was confident the president would ultimately win a victory in Arizona, where votes were also still counted, including in Maricopa County, the state’s most populous region. The AP declared Biden the winner in Arizona and said Thursday it was monitoring the vote count as it went.

“The Associated Press continues to watch and analyze the results of the Arizona vote count as they come in,” said Sally Buzbee, editor-in-chief of AP. “We will follow the facts in any case. ”

Trump’s campaign featured legal challenges in several states, though he faced long chances. He is expected to win multiple lawsuits in multiple states in order to stop the vote count because more than one state has not been declared.

Some Trump team trials only ask for better access by campaign observers to the places where ballots are processed and counted. A Georgian judge dismissed the campaign’s complaint less than 12 hours after it was filed. And a Michigan judge dismissed a lawsuit against Trump over whether enough GOP challengers had access to the processing of missing ballots

Biden’s attorney, Bob Bauer, said the lawsuits were legally “without merit.” Their sole purpose, he said, “is to create an opportunity for them to give a false message about what is going on in the electoral process”.

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Weissert reported from Wilmington, Delaware. Associated Press editors Jill Colvin, Colleen Long, and Alexandra Jaffe in Washington contributed to this report.

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