WASHINGTON — Foreign policy experts say President Donald Trump's attacks on the vote-counting process in the wake of Election Day give a boost to American adversaries.
As his reelection chances diminish, Trump spoke Thursday evening from the White House briefing room, falsely claiming the election was being "stolen" from him. Trump said his campaign was in the midst of pursuing a series of lawsuits across battleground states.
"They're trying to rig an election, and we can't let that happen," added Trump.
"President Trump's wild and baseless claims are a gift to America's adversaries, who will argue the U.S. isn't a model for others to emulate or a reliable ally," Kori Schake, director of foreign and defense policy studies at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, told CNBC.
"It encourages our adversaries to challenge our security guarantees and makes the domestic politics of our friends fighting by our side more difficult," added Schake, a career civil servant with a bipartisan background and stints at the departments of Defense and State and the National Security Council at the White House.
Benjamin Friedman, policy director at Defense Priorities, told CNBC that Trump's calls via Twitter to "quit counting votes to keep power damage the U.S.'s ability to serve as an exemplar of democracy to others globally."
"Allies and adversaries paying attention already knew U.S. elections were messy and President Trump was capable of illiberal statements. So beyond giving adversaries something to mock and allies some heartburn, effects should be small," Friedman added.
"Our adversaries benefit from a weakening of American democracy, and surely cheer Donald Trump's effort to undermine its central institution: free and fair elections," explained Stephen Biddle, professor of international and public affairs at Columbia University.
Biddle added that rivals such as Russia, China, Iran and North Korea have an interest in "delegitimizing democracy and countering the notion that democracy is a higher form of government."
"Pointing to an allegedly chaotic, fraud-ridden U.S. election thus offers them an opportunity to diminish enthusiasm in their own populations for U.S.-style government and democracy and to diminish the threat that this system poses to them. And this gives them an incentive to amplify Trump's claims – the more chaos here, the better for them there," Biddle told CNBC.
"Our allies want benign U.S. leadership, and surely see Trump's willingness to create chaos at home where he thinks this will benefit him as a weakening of America's ability to play a leadership role anywhere," Biddle said.
Biddle added that allies, however, recognize the U.S. as largely a force for good on the global stage.
Biden on Thursday urged patience as outstanding votes in Nevada, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Alaska, Arizona and North Carolina were tallied. The Democratic nominee wrote on Twitter: "No one is going to take our democracy away from us. Not now, not ever."
Jeremy Bash, former chief of staff at the CIA and Department of Defense in the Obama administration, told MSNBC's Craig Melvin that Trump's claims of a fraudulent election transmit "chaos and weakness" to allies and adversaries abroad.
"I think unfortunately it emboldens our adversaries because they look here and they think, boy, the United States is in chaos, when in fact we're not. We had a very orderly voting process, and we're having a very orderly counting process," Bash said.
"The presidential election is the crown jewel of American democracy. This should be a moment for us to shine, and the president is taking us down a very dark path," Bash added.