Several US television networks late on Thursday stopped the live broadcast of Donald Trump’s first public appearance since election night after coming to the conclusion that the president was spreading misinformation.
Trump unleashed a flood of burning and unwarranted allegations in a 17-minute address, insisting that Democrats used “illegal votes” to “steal the election from us.”
“If you count the legal votes, I win easily,” he claimed. “They are trying to prepare for an election. And we can not let that happen.”
The president spoke when late voting in battlefield states showed that Democrat Joe Biden consistently stopped winning.
“OK, here we are again in the unusual position of not only interrupting the President of the United States but correcting the President of the United States,” said MSNBC anchor Brian Williams, as the network quickly ended its live coverage.
NBC and ABC News also drew contact on their live coverage of Trump.
“What a sad night for the United States of America to hear its president say that, to falsely accuse people of trying to steal the election,” said CNN’s Jake Tapper.
He described it as “lie after lie after lie about the election that was stolen”, without proof, “just smears”.
Trump’s rhetoric – he also tweeted early on Friday and repeated his claims – came when his campaign aggressively challenged the integrity of the huge number of ballot papers that were sent in rather than left in person on election day.
The large transition to postal elections this year reflected voters’ desire to avoid risking exposure to Covid-19 in cramped polling stations during a pandemic that has already killed 235,000 Americans.
Submission votes have been heavily skewed to the Democrats. In the crucial state of Pennsylvania, the Trump campaign moved to stop the counting of votes, which the authorities were forbidden to consider before election day.
Mixed support for Trump
Representative Will Hurd called Trump’s call to stop voting “dangerous and wrong,” while Rupert Murdoch’s long-standing New York Post called Trump’s accusations “baseless.”
But prominent Republicans rallied behind Trump, signaling that they could challenge the legitimacy of the results if the president loses.
“I think everything should be on the table,” Senator Lindsey Graham said when asked by Fox News host and Trump loyalist Sean Hannity whether Pennsylvania’s Republican-led lawmakers would refuse to testify.
Biden, 77, was just one or at most two battlefield states from securing the majority to take the White House. Trump, 74, needed an increasingly unlikely combination of gains in several states to retain power.
Biden, who has promised to heal a country wounded by Trump’s extraordinarily polarizing four years in power, appealed for “people to stay calm.”
“We have no doubt that when the bill is over, Senator (Kamala) Harris and I will be declared the winners,” he said in comments to reporters in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware.
“The process works,” he said. “The bill is ready. And we will know soon.”
( Jowharwith AFP and AP)