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Trump falsely claims victory in ‘most dishonest’ speech of presidency

US President Donald Trump delivers a speech from the White House on Thursday night.

Facing the prospect of becoming a one-term president, Donald Trump has falsely claimed victory in the 2020 presidential race, accusing the Democrats of attempting to steal the election from him.

As vote counts showed his path to victory disappearing, President Trump delivered what some described as “the most dishonest” speech of his presidency from the White House on Thursday night.

The president once again cast doubt on the integrity of the US election in a last-ditch effort to convince the public that he was the winner of the Tuesday vote.

Trump said that a count of legal votes would show him winning against former Vice President Joe Biden.

“If you count the legal votes, I easily win. If you count the illegal votes, they can try to steal the election from us,” he said at the White House.

“If you count the votes that came in late, we’re looking at them very strongly, a lot of votes came in late,” Trump said, in a tone that seemed calculated to inflame tensions.

Protests continued for a third consecutive night Thursday as the nation waited for the results of the race.

The Trump campaign has launched or attempted to bring lawsuits in several hotly-contested battleground states to stop the counting of votes. The president boasted that his team was bringing “tremendous litigation” in states where votes were still being counted.

Using the podium to claim he was being robbed of a second term by fraud, Trump again repudiated the notion of a peaceful transition of power should his Democratic opponent win the election.

"This is a case where they're trying to steal an election, they're trying to rig an election, and we can't let that happen," Trump said without offering any evidence.

Trump is steaming at the possibility of losing to Biden, who has expanded his lead in several key swing states to potentially secure the presidency.

The former vice president needs to win Nevada – where he holds a slim lead of about one percentage point – to reach the 270 electoral votes necessary to win the election.

Trump’s path to a second term has become increasingly narrow and hinges on winning four key battleground states. Hundreds of thousands of votes have yet to be counted in those states amid an unprecedented number of mail-in-ballots because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The president had previously falsely claimed victory in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Georgia and Michigan, even though mail-in ballots are still being counted.

New tallies show Trump’s lead dwindling in Georgia and Pennsylvania.

Trump again raised questions about the validity of absentee ballots and mail-in voting, falsely claiming that they “make people corrupt.” The president later doubled down that there is “tremendous corruption and fraud going on.”

Trump seems intent on waging a prolonged legal battle, viewing it as his only option to remain in office. He has personally dispatched legal advisers to several swing states where the margins are tight.

“It’s going to end up perhaps at the highest court in the land, we’ll see,” the president said Thursday night, before leaving without taking questions.

The president had not addressed the nation since his speech on Wednesday night, when he falsely declared victory. Aides said Biden’s public appearances on Wednesday and Thursday, during which he appealed for calm as the votes are being counter, prompted Trump to do the same.

Biden and his running mate, Senator Kamala Harris, on the other hand had emerged in Delaware, telling Americans that “each ballot must be counted."

“In America, the vote is sacred,” Biden said. “Democracy is sometimes messy. It sometimes requires a little patience, as well. But that patience has been rewarded now for 240 years with a system of governance that’s been the envy of the world.”

The former vice president said that he and his team “continue to feel very good” about the ultimate result of the race.

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