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Addressing an election party in the East Room of the White House early Wednesday morning, President Trump falsely and prematurely claimed victory in key swing states and pledged to go to the Supreme Court to stop votes from being counted.

Why it matters: As Axios previously reported, this was not spur of the moment.

  • For weeks, Trump has discussed this scenario with advisers and even gamed out what he would say to declare victory on election night, even if networks had not called the battlegrounds for him, reports Axios' Jonathan Swan.

The state of play: Trump falsely claimed it was "clear" that he had won in North Carolina and Georgia, where the races remain too close to call as of his 2:30 am ET speech.

  • He also pointed to vote counts in Michigan and Pennsylvania, where millions of mail-in ballots have not yet been tallied, to claim that he was winning in two swing states that are crucial in his path to the White House.
  • The speech came after months of Trump's attempts to undermine the credibility of mail-in ballots, which he has baselessly claimed are conducive to widespread voter fraud.

What he said: "This is a fraud on the American public. This is an embarrassment to our country. We were getting ready to win this election. Frankly, we did win this election," Trump falsely claimed.

  • "We want the law to be used in a proper manner. So we will be going to the U.S. Supreme Court. We want all voting to stop. We don't want them to find any ballots at 4 o'clock in the morning and add them to the list."

The other side: "The president’s statement tonight about trying to shut down the counting of duly cast ballots was outrageous, unprecedented, and incorrect," Biden campaign manager Jen O'Malley Dillon said in a statement Wednesday morning.

  • "If the president makes good on his threat to go to court to try to prevent the proper tabulation of votes, we have legal teams standing by ready to deploy to resist that effort. And they will prevail," she added.

Go deeper: More on Trump's plan to declare premature victory

Go deeper

Updated Dec 2, 2020 - Politics & Policy

The top Republicans who have acknowledged Biden as president-elect

Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Some elected Republicans are breaking ranks with President Trump to acknowledge that President-elect Biden won the 2020 presidential election.

Why it matters: The relative sparsity of acknowledgements highlights Trump's lasting power in the GOP, as his campaign moves to file multiple lawsuits alleging voter fraud in key swing states — despite the fact that there have been no credible allegations of any widespread fraud anywhere in the U.S.

Updated Dec 1, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Barr says DOJ has not seen evidence of fraud that would change election results

Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Attorney General Bill Barr told AP on Tuesday that the Department of Justice has not uncovered evidence of widespread voter fraud that would change the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.

Why it matters: It's a direct repudiation of President Trump's baseless claims of a "rigged" election from one of the most loyal members of his Cabinet.

The walls close in on Trump

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

With Bill Barr's "Et tu, Brute!" interview with AP, President Trump is watching the walls close in on his claims of fraud, hoaxes and conspiracies.

Why it matters: Trump and his legal team continue to claim election fraud. But the Republican governors of Arizona and Georgia have certified their elections, a loyalist like Barr has weighed in, and lower-ranking officials have taken potshots.