With tens of millions of ballots nonetheless being counted, Trump awoke in an agitated state, tweeting or retweeting messages that sought to undermine confidence within the vote counting course of. At the very least three had been labeled by Twitter as “disputed” or “deceptive.”
A number of prime Republicans, together with these near Senate Republican leaders, had been privately dismissive of Trump’s suggestion that ballots should not be counted after Election Day.
And even his personal marketing campaign mentioned in a name with reporters that Trump’s remaining path to victory will depend on these still-uncounted ballots in locations the place the method of tabulating outcomes has taken longer.
What emerged was an image of a President intent on utilizing all of the instruments at his disposal to drive a victory, together with wielding misinformation in regards to the integrity of the vote and an onslaught of authorized maneuvers, even because the outcomes had been nonetheless coming in and his advisers insisted the maths would flip in his favor.
Because the day unfolded, Trump’s authorized technique was changing into clearer, although it contained contradictions.
In states the place Trump seems to be shedding, akin to Wisconsin, the marketing campaign mentioned it will request a recount. CNN has projected Biden will win in Wisconsin.
However in different states, the place present outcomes present Trump profitable however excellent mail-in or early votes may tilt the race in favor of Biden, the marketing campaign is demanding the vote counting be halted.
In Michigan and Pennsylvania, Trump’s marketing campaign filed lawsuits demanding a cease to the depend till their marketing campaign observers have higher entry to areas the place the tallying is happening. CNN additionally projected Biden would win Michigan.
As well as, the marketing campaign mentioned it was asking the US Supreme Courtroom to intervene in a pending case difficult a Pennsylvania Supreme Courtroom choice that allowed ballots to be counted after Election Day. The justices refused to expedite the enchantment earlier than the election, however they’re nonetheless contemplating whether or not to take up the case.
A workforce of Trump advisers mobilized to Pennsylvania, which the President had signaled can be the positioning of intensive authorized efforts ought to outcomes present him shedding. Trump supporters started receiving a barrage of fundraising solicitations to finance what’s going to quantity to an costly and drawn-out authorized struggle.
“If we depend all authorized ballots, the President wins,” marketing campaign supervisor Invoice Stepien instructed reporters on a shortly organized midmorning convention name.
Trump, nevertheless, has projected much less optimism in these routes and has as a substitute sought to query the massive batches of excellent votes which have tipped some states towards Biden.
“They’re discovering Biden votes all over — in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan. So unhealthy for our Nation!” he wrote on Twitter.
Aides had been encouraging Trump to remain within the struggle, although Trump hardly wanted the nudge, a marketing campaign adviser mentioned on Wednesday. The President was furious watching Biden’s lead enhance in states akin to Michigan and Wisconsin.
“He feels it is being stolen from him,” the adviser mentioned.
However Trump provided a less-than-enthusiastic endorsement of his workforce’s authorized technique in cellphone calls with a few of his allies on Wednesday, sounding resigned to the plan falling brief and questioning why his workforce hadn’t efficiently challenged voting guidelines earlier than the election, at the same time as he remained keen to see it by.
In keeping with an individual who spoke to him, the President appeared drained after spending the evening watching election returns. He spoke to a number of of his supporters behind closed doorways on the White Home as his workforce mobilized to start the post-Election Day effort.
The President instructed one particular person he was keen to let the authorized maneuvering proceed however steered he didn’t consider it will achieve success in the long run. Whereas he mentioned he believes he’ll win in Arizona, Pennsylvania and Georgia, he was skeptical of the lawsuits filed by his workforce.
Trump hinted at his views in a tweet on Wednesday afternoon: “Our legal professionals have requested for ‘significant entry’, however what good does that do?” he wrote. “The harm has already been accomplished to the integrity of our system, and to the Presidential Election itself. That is what must be mentioned!”
Trump’s marketing campaign has been feverishly soliciting funds for the authorized effort, and after his tweet, one marketing campaign adviser questioned why the President would undercut the trouble on the identical second he’s searching for cash to assist it.
Trump’s grip-like command of the Republican Occasion stays firmly in place, and doesn’t seem poised to loosen after Tuesday evening’s outcomes. Few Republican elected officers spoke out towards Trump’s makes an attempt to delegitimize the vote counting course of. As a substitute, most had been silent or a minimum of circumspect because the scenario performs out.
Senate Majority Chief Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who received his personal reelection race on Tuesday, steered at a information convention in Louisville that Trump’s untimely declaration of victory was not binding.
“Claiming you win the election is completely different from ending the counting,” he mentioned.
Privately, nevertheless, these inside Trump’s occasion had been starting to undercut his claims that fraudulent voting was resulting in late Democratic surges in essential battlegrounds.
“No, we do not agree with what’s popping out of the White Home,” a senior GOP official mentioned. “We see no credible studies of fraud or something improper.”
Trump had lengthy signaled he wouldn’t settle for the outcomes of a detailed election that confirmed him shedding. He mentioned in his wee-hours assertion from the East Room that he would problem the leads to the US Supreme Courtroom, and his authorized workforce was transferring swiftly to execute plans in particular person states the place the margins stay razor-thin, together with in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
Trump’s marketing campaign signaled to its allies it plans to launch in depth authorized challenges in these states. Stepien instructed marketing campaign surrogates in a phone name Wednesday morning that marketing campaign legal professionals are already on the bottom in anticipation of filings, an individual acquainted with the matter mentioned.
Trump marketing campaign officers instructed allies on the decision that the primary probably step can be requesting recounts in states together with Wisconsin and Michigan.
A number of hours later, the marketing campaign mentioned in an announcement it will request a recount in Wisconsin, although beneath Wisconsin regulation a marketing campaign cannot petition for a recount till the state’s Election Fee completes the canvass from county election boards.
How a lot a recount would assist Trump’s efforts is not clear; a recount of the presidential vote in 2016 solely netted Trump an extra few hundred votes. Biden was main Trump by greater than 20,000 votes as of Wednesday.
The Trump marketing campaign additionally launched an announcement saying it had filed a lawsuit in Michigan asking the state to halt vote counting till it receives “significant entry” to watch the opening of ballots and the counting course of.
Trump signaled earlier than the election his legal professionals would intervene in Pennsylvania shortly after voting concluded, and officers instructed Trump allies on Wednesday morning they anticipated a submitting there imminently.
Later, the marketing campaign introduced it was suing the commonwealth, claiming Democratic election officers are “hiding the poll counting and processing” from Republican ballot observers.
Trump deputy marketing campaign supervisor Justin Clark mentioned the marketing campaign is “suing to briefly halt counting till there’s significant transparency and Republicans can guarantee all counting is finished aboveboard and by the regulation.”
Pennsylvania’s legal professional basic Josh Shapiro, showing on CNN, referred to as the lawsuit “extra a political doc than a authorized doc.”
A big cadre of Trump advisers, together with his son Eric, senior advisers and daughter-in-law Lara Trump, former Florida legal professional basic Pam Bondi and senior adviser Corey Lewandowski had been touring to Philadelphia forward of anticipated authorized challenges. Trump’s private legal professional Rudy Giuliani additionally tweeted he had mobilized to Philadelphia.
Trump had no occasions on his schedule Wednesday, and Vice President Mike Pence’s schedule was equally empty. Each had been anticipated to stay in Washington to seek the advice of with marketing campaign and authorized groups about their subsequent steps.
The earlier night, deliberations over what Trump would say when he emerged after midnight had been at occasions intense, in accordance with folks acquainted with the matter. Trump’s speech got here round 2:30 a.m. ET, nicely after his rival spoke from Wilmington, Delaware. Whereas teleprompters had been arrange for him to learn from, he appeared to ad-lib a lot of his speech.
“That is with out query the most recent information convention I’ve ever had,” Trump mentioned.
Talking after him, Pence appeared to supply a drastically completely different message, saying that “whereas the votes proceed to be counted, we will stay vigilant.”
Trump overtly acknowledged that he had felt higher earlier within the night on Tuesday, as invited friends nibbled on pigs-in-a-blanket and French fries on the State Ground of the White Home and early outcomes confirmed him edging former Vice President Joe Biden.
“Actually we had been simply all set to get outdoors and simply rejoice one thing that was so stunning, so good,” he mentioned.
Whereas 400 folks had been invited to the occasion, far fewer truly attended, together with a number of Fox Information personalities and members of the President’s cupboard.
Trump made a short look on the occasion early within the night earlier than retreating upstairs to his personal residence. There, he conferred with a smaller group of marketing campaign and White Home advisers about the way to proceed. A marketing campaign “battle room” had been established on the White Home campus to supply Trump and his senior workforce real-time updates.
Different members of Trump’s internal circle, together with members of his household, held a extra personal results-viewing occasion from the household eating room, the place massive televisions had been wheeled in and a settee arrange.
Trump’s early confidence turned to indignation when Fox Information, the community airing on massive televisions arrange all through the White Home, projected Biden would win Arizona. Trump’s marketing campaign publicly referred to as on the community to retract the projection and on Wednesday morning, the President’s marketing campaign supervisor insisted to reporters that Arizona remained in play.
“Late-arriving votes solid closest to Election Day are those being counted now,” Invoice Stepien mentioned, including they count on between two-thirds and 70% of the remaining uncounted ballots can be “coming to the President.”
“That math provides as much as a margin of round 30,000 votes within the President’s favor,” Stepien mentioned, including that Arizona “will come the President’s manner.”
Biden’s marketing campaign provided a wholly completely different evaluation by itself briefing name, saying they believed the previous vice chairman had received in Arizona and was on observe to win Michigan and Wisconsin.
Regardless of the boldness projected by the Trump marketing campaign, not everybody on that workforce was feeling optimistic waking up on Wednesday.
“We’re clearly in a nook right here,” one senior official mentioned.
However the official cautioned that the marketing campaign isn’t but out of the sport, and marketing campaign officers have continued to assert each publicly and privately that they suppose they’ve shot if they will get Arizona and Nevada into their column.
In the meantime, the Trump marketing campaign was desperately fundraising the day after the election for assets to wage authorized battles towards election outcomes. The marketing campaign despatched out six emails to supporters after midnight asking for cash. Every of the solicitations included the false declare that Democrats are attempting to “steal” the election.
There isn’t any proof of nefarious exercise surrounding the election depend.
At a rally in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on the eve of the election day, Trump mentioned marketing campaign legal professionals “will probably be getting in and so they’ll be preventing.”
This story has been up to date with extra reporting on Trump’s frame of mind.
CNN’s Jim Acosta, Jeff Zeleny, Sarah Westwood, Betsy Klein and Greg Clary contributed to this report.