2020 Elections

Trump says he's sending in his lawyers as soon as the election ends to review swing state votes

Allan Smith
President Donald Trump speaks to the press at Charlotte Douglas International Airport on November 1, 2020, in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Brendan Smialowski | AFP | Getty Images

President Donald Trump said Sunday that he's sending in his lawyers as soon as the election ends Tuesday, his latest attack on the legitimacy of this week's unprecedented vote count.

After landing in North Carolina on Sunday evening, Trump was asked about a report published Sunday in Axios that said he could try to prematurely declare victory on Election Day. Trump denied that he would do so, but he lamented Supreme Court rulings that allowed for Pennsylvania and North Carolina to count absentee ballots that are postmarked before Election Day but arrive shortly after Tuesday.

"I think it was a terrible decision for our country. And I think it was a very dangerous decision for our country," Trump said. "Because you're going to have one or two or three states, depending on how it ends up, where they're tabulating ballots and the rest of the world is waiting to find out. And I think there's great danger to it, and I think a lot of fraud and misuse can take place. I think it's a terrible decision by the Supreme Court. A terrible decision."

Trump's claims of widespread fraud connected to mail-in voting have been repeatedly debunked.

"Now, I don't know if that's going to be changed, because we're going to go in night of, as soon as that election is over, we're going in with our lawyers," Trump continued, adding: "I don't think it's fair that we have to wait a long period of time after the election. Should've gotten their ballots in a long time before that. Could've gotten their ballots in a month ago. I think it's a ridiculous decision."

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Pennsylvania and North Carolina are two of the most hotly contested swing states. In Pennsylvania specifically, election officials aren't allowed to ready the ballots for tabulation ahead of polls' closing — a process known as "pre-canvassing" — that would help speed up the counting process.

Earlier Sunday, at a rally in Dubuque, Iowa, Trump sought to discredit absentee ballots as election officials in some states have cautioned that it may take days to complete the count.

"We should know the result of the election by the evening of November 3rd," Trump said.

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Making sure all the votes are counted

With early voting setting records as states have expanded the ability to use it, nearly 100 million people have already cast their ballots. Polls show Democratic nominee Joe Biden with a large lead among early voters in key states, while Trump maintains a significant advantage among those who have yet to vote.

The candidates spent Sunday making their final pitches to voters ahead of Tuesday's election. Trump made stops in Michigan and Iowa and was scheduled for rallies later Sunday in North Carolina, Georgia and Florida. Biden, meanwhile, held multiple events in Philadelphia as he seeks to win Pennsylvania.

Asked in Philadelphia about the Axios report, Biden shot back, "The president's not going to steal this election."

Trump and his allies have in recent days amplified rhetoric calling into question the legitimacy of Tuesday's vote. On ABC News' "This Week," Trump campaign senior adviser Jason Miller baselessly claimed Sunday that Democrats will seek to "steal" the election back from Trump if he holds a lead in some key swing states Tuesday.

Election officials from both parties have tried to reassure voters about the legitimacy of the count, which they said could last for days as mailed-in ballots trickle in. Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, responded to Trump's Election Day legal threat in a tweet noting that the Trump campaign has lost three voting-related lawsuits against the state.

Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, the Republican nominee for governor, called Miller's comment "garbage."

"Hey guys, please ignore this type of garbage," he tweeted. "The truth is that elections are never decided on election night. ... It really doesn't matter who is ahead on election night, it only matters when every eligible vote is counted and each county canvasses and certifies the vote totals."

On CNN's "State of the Union," Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, said "it is going to take time to count" the firehose of absentee ballots.

"It's more important that we get a count that's accurate than a count that is fast," she said.

Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said on NBC's "Meet the Press" that voters should "ignore the hype" around what will happen with the ballots.

"Just get your ballots in today," she said.

Trump began his Sunday spree in Michigan, where he held a midday rally in snowy Washington Township and played the greatest hits of his campaign as temperatures dropped to 29 degrees with the wind chill. In Iowa, he also highlighted the weather, lamenting the windy conditions.

Trump went through his usual rally set list, blasting Democratic policy proposals, criticizing Biden's fitness and assailing so-called cancel culture.

Trump attacked Biden as "agitated" and "angry" because "he's losing," even though Biden leads in most national and swing state polling.

Speaking Sunday afternoon in Philadelphia, Biden referred to how close Pennsylvania was in 2016, when Trump won by just about 44,000 votes.

"So every single vote matters," Biden said. "The power to change this country is literally in your hands."

"I don't care how hard Donald Trump tries, there's nothing he can do to stop this country from voting," he said, saying it is "time for Donald Trump to pack his bags and go home."

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Are voting results safe?

Biden criticized Trump's handling of the pandemic and race relations, saying, "It's time to breathe some life back into this nation."

"We're tired of the tweets, the anger, the hate, the irresponsibility," he said. "We've got a lot of work to do."

Biden ripped into Trump at his last rally of the day, calling him a "virus" and pushing for Pennsylvanians who have yet to return their absentee ballots to do so immediately.

"I'll never wave the white flag," Biden said of Trump's pandemic response. "We're going to beat this virus. We're going to get it under control. To beat the virus, we first have to beat Donald Trump. He's the virus."

During his first rally, Trump also referred to an incident over the weekend when a group of Trump supporters surrounded a Biden campaign bus with their vehicles in Texas. Video showed two cars colliding, and the Biden campaign said the pro-Trump trucks tried to run the bus off the road as it traveled from San Antonio to Austin.

"You see the way our people, they — you know, they were protecting his bus yesterday," Trump said. "Because they're nice. So his bus — they had hundreds of cars, Trump, Trump, Trump and the American flag. You see Trump and the American flag. Do you ever notice when you see the other side — I don't even see much of the other side."

Biden responded to the incident later Sunday afternoon during an event with Rep. Brendan Boyle, D-Pa. Biden noted that Trump promoted a video of the episode in a tweet praising his supporters.

"Folks, that's not who we are," he said. "We are so much better than this. We're so much better than this. It's not who we are."

In Michigan, Trump repeatedly complained about how cold he was, saying he hadn't brought the proper coat for the event. He said the rally amounted to "a contest to see whether or not we can all stand it."

Trump later claimed that Biden would tap Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., to oversee U.S. immigration, and he asked why the Justice Department wasn't investigating Omar and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.

Trump also bashed Democratic governors for their efforts to contain the coronavirus, including Whitmer.

Cases and hospitalizations are on the rise in most states.

"We're not having any lockdowns, that I can tell you," Trump said.