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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

Trump political team disavows "Patriot Party" groups

Marine One carries President Trump away from the White House on Inauguration Day. Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Donald Trump's still-active presidential campaign committee officially disavowed political groups affiliated with the nascent "Patriot Party" on Monday.

Why it matters: Trump briefly floated the possibility of creating a new political party to compete with the GOP — with him at the helm. But others have formed their own "Patriot Party" entities during the past week, and Trump's team wants to make clear it has nothing to do with them.

AT&T in talks with Discovery to combine media assets

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

AT&T is in talks with media giant Discovery about merging its media assets, like CNN, TBS and TNT, according to two sources familiar with the discussions.

Why it matters: A potential merger could allow AT&T and Discovery to better compete with entertainment giants like Disney and Netflix in the video streaming wars.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Franklin Graham worries Trump too old to run in 2024

Graham and Trump at a rally in 2017. Photo: Ralph Freso/Getty Images

The Rev. Franklin Graham says a potential 2024 presidential bid by Donald Trump would "be a very tough thing to do," the prominent Christian leader told "Axios on HBO."

Why it matters: Graham, the president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan's Purse, was among Trump's earliest and most prominent evangelical defenders.