President Donald Trump on Sunday denied reports that he intends to prematurely declare victory on election night. Responding to a recent Axios report that, citing three anonymous sources, claimed that Trump "has told confidants he'll declare victory on Tuesday night if it looks like he's 'ahead,'" the president said it was a "false report" while at the same time indicating that he and his team are preparing for a legal battle.
Speaking with reporters in Charlotte, North Carolina, asked about the Axios report, Trump criticized a Supreme Court decision to allow ballots to be received after Election Day in several battleground states, including Pennsylvania and North Carolina. The president called the move "a terrible decision for our country," according to NBC News, and said that he believes "it was a very dangerous decision…because you're going to have one or two or three states, depending on how it ends up, where they're tabulating ballots and the rest of the world is waiting to find out." He added that he believes "there's great danger" in allowing this, adding without providing evidence, "I think a lot of fraud and misuse can take place. I think it's a terrible decision by the Supreme Court. A terrible decision."
"Now, I don't know if that's going to be changed, because we're going to go in night of, as soon as that election is over, we're going in with our lawyers," he continued. "I don't think it's fair that we have to wait a long period of time after the election. Should've gotten their ballots in a long time before that. Could've gotten their ballots in a month ago. I think it's a ridiculous decision."
Published Sunday, the Axios report alleged that the president, in recent weeks, "has privately talked through this scenario in some detail" and has described "plans to walk up to a podium on election night and declare he has won." The report said that the president intends to prematurely declare victory "even if the electoral college outcome still hinges on large numbers of uncounted votes in key states like Pennsylvania." The report noted that for him to declare victory in such a scenario, "his allies expect he would need to either win or have commanding leads in Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, Texas, Iowa, Arizona and Georgia."
According to the report, the president's team "is preparing to falsely claim that mail-in ballots counted after Nov. 3… are evidence of election fraud." The outlet added that if Pennsylvania's final outcome once mail-in ballots are counted changes the outcome in the state, Trump's team is "preparing to baselessly claim… Democrats would have 'stolen' the election."
Responding to that report, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said, "The president's not gonna steal this election." The Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh, meanwhile, said, "This is nothing but people trying to create doubt about a Trump victory. When he wins, he's going to say so."