Donald Trump's campaign urged supporters on Wednesday to "DEFEND YOUR PRESIDENT" just days after his warning that a full vote count might cause armed rebellion.
While the 2020 election remains uncalled, as of Wednesday morning Joe Biden held a lead in enough states to win the White House.
Trump, who has been demanding for months that the election be decided based only on the votes counted by Election Day, appeared to be egging on his violent extremist supporters.
In an early morning fundraising email titled "BREAKING! DEMOCRATS PLAN TO STEAL THE ELECTION!" Team Trump asked his backers to "step up one last time" and "DEFEND the integrity of our election" with a donation.
Trump also lashed out at the democratic process, tweeting falsely late Tuesday night that, "We are up BIG, but they are trying to STEAL the Election. We will never let them do it. Votes cannot be cast after the Polls are closed!"
He also falsely claimed, "Last night I was leading, often solidly, in many key States, in almost all instances Democrat run & controlled. Then, one by one, they started to magically disappear as surprise ballot dumps were counted. VERY STRANGE, and the 'pollsters' got it completely & historically wrong!"
A shift in the lead was expected by experts given that states count the early and mail-in votes at varying times. They warned that this could cause a "red mirage" in states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, where the election night tally may look more Republican than the ultimate result.
Just two days ago, Trump appeared to egg on his supporters to respond with armed rebellion should states like Pennsylvania attempt to count all the votes.
"The Supreme Court decision on voting in Pennsylvania is a VERY dangerous one," he tweeted. "It will allow rampant and unchecked cheating and will undermine our entire systems of laws. It will also induce violence in the streets. Something must be done!" He was referencing a court ruling allowing the state to count ballots postmarked on time and received within three days of the election in the state.
The Washington Post reported on Wednesday that many of his supporters appear to be taking that advice seriously. Dozens of users on a pro-Trump online message board posted messages urging "war" to stop Democrats from "trying to STEAL the election." One wrote that they are "standing by and keeping my rifle by my side."
A Trump campaign spokesperson did not immediately respond to an inquiry for this story.
But he has encouraged his most violent extremist fans in the past and made it clear that he would not accept the results of the election if he didn't prevail.
At the first general election debate, he told the white nationalist Proud Boys — a Southern Poverty Law Center-designated hate group — to "stand back and stand by" rather than denouncing their violent tactics. After armed right-wing mobs in Michigan stormed the state Capitol, Trump demanded that the state's governor give in to their demands.
At a September news conference, Trump made it clear that he might not allow a peaceful transition of power to Joe Biden if he loses reelection.
"Well, we're going to have to see what happens. You know that. I've been complaining very strongly about the ballots. And the ballots are a disaster," he baselessly claimed. "Get rid of the ballots and you'll have a very — we'll have a very peaceful — there won't be a transfer, frankly; there'll be a continuation. The ballots are out of control. You know it."
After Trump falsely claimed to have won the election early Wednesday morning, Trump's campaign manager maintained on a press call that "if we count all legally cast ballots, we believe the president will win."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.
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