WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump said without evidence on Thursday night (Nov 5) that if "legal" votes were counted he would "easily" win the presidential election, in a signal he is in no mood to concede to 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 if you count the votes that came in late," said Trump in his first televised appearance since election night.
"We're looking at them very strongly, but a lot of votes came in late."
He also said that he had "already decisively won many critical states, including massive victories" in Florida, Iowa, Indiana and Ohio.
"We won these and many other victories despite historic election interference in big money, big media and big tech," said Trump at the White House briefing room.
Trump added his team had launched a "tremendous amount of litigation" to counter what he called the "corruption" of Democrats, even as several officials in battleground states yet to be called have defended the integrity of the vote.
SPEECH CUT SHORT BY US TV NETWORKS
Beyond the rhetoric, Trump's complaints were specifically targeting the integrity of the huge number of ballots mailed in, rather than cast in person on election day.
The big shift to postal ballots this year reflected the desire of voters to avoid risking exposure to COVID-19 in crowded polling stations during a pandemic that has already killed more than 230,000 Americans.
However, because Trump often denied the seriousness of the virus and told his supporters not to support mail-in ballots, far fewer Republicans took advantage of the option, compared to Democrats.
Several major US television networks cut away from live coverage of Trump's event soon after it started, with MSNBC citing the need to correct false claims by the president.
TRUMP SONS STAND BY ELECTION CLAIMS
Donald Trump Jr, the eldest, called on his father in a tweet to wage "total war" against the cheating that he believes is tainting the presidential election.
The inflammatory tweet was framed by some, including the New York Post, as a clear sign of growing panic in the Trump camp over Joe Biden's chances of winning the White House.
"The best thing for America's future is for @realDonaldTrump to go to total war over this election to expose all of the fraud, cheating, dead/no longer in state voters, that has been going on for far too long," Don Jr wrote on his Twitter account, where he regularly retweets conspiracy theories.
He did not provide any evidence of the cheating he alleged was going on.
"It's time to clean up this mess & stop looking like a banana republic!" he added, before deriding the "total lack of action" from Republicans, naming some - such as South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham, usually a staunch Trump ally.
His younger brother Eric also targeted the party that his father theoretically heads.
"Where are Republicans! Have some backbone. Fight against this fraud. Our voters will never forget you if your sheep!" he wrote.
Few, however, appeared to answer his grammatically incorrect call.
Trump's eldest daughter and one of his senior advisers, Ivanka, tweeted Thursday that her father "will always go to the mat fighting for the hardworking men & women of this great Country!"
But she has not tweeted or retweeted any of the fraud allegations championed by her brothers since Election Day.
PATHS TO VICTORY
Joe Biden appears to be in the lead following wins in Michigan and Wisconsin. With 264 electoral college votes projected to go to the Democrat, he is one battleground state away from becoming president-elect.
Trump, with 214 electoral votes, faces a much higher hurdle. To reach 270, he needs to claim all four remaining battlegrounds: Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Georgia and Nevada.
Earlier Biden told reporters in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware that he had "no doubt" he would defeat Trump and be declared winner of the US election. He urged voters to remain calm and said that the result would be known "very soon".
Meanwhile, Trump's campaign has lost court rulings in the closely contested states of Georgia and Michigan, and has vowed to bring a new lawsuit challenging what it called voting irregularities in Nevada.