Trump lays out remaining election claims
Donald Trump phoned in to a meeting of his supporters in the crucial swing state of Pennsylvania today, thanking them for continuing to fight the election result and laying out his remaining claims about voter fraud.
The room was filled with Republican state politicians, conservative election observers and members of the public, some of whom made statements.
Mr Trump was reportedly planning to appear in person, but cancelled the trip and called in from the White House instead. Ms Ellis held her phone up to the microphone so everyone could hear her boss speak.
Previewing the event a little earlier, the President described it as a "very important state Senate hearing". To be clear, it was not an official government hearing. Rather, it was an event organised independently by some of Pennsylvania's Republican politicians.
A pedantic distinction, perhaps, but one I am nonetheless obliged to note, as an actual hearing in the state legislature would have carried more weight.
Anyway, this was the most we'd heard from Mr Trump on the topic of the election, and his various lawsuits attempting to overturn Joe Biden's victory, in some time, so I'm going to run you through pretty much everything he said.
I'll jump in to fact-check the President's words wherever necessary. Fair warning, that is going to happen a lot.
I will be speaking before a very important Pennsylvania State Senate hearing which is in process now. Talking about the massive voter fraud which took place in the 2020 Election!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 25, 2020
CLAIM 1: Trump won the election easily
"I'm in the Oval Office right now, and it's very interesting to see what's going on," Mr Trump told his supporters.
"This was an election that we won easily. We won it by a lot."
That line sparked an enthusiastic round of applause from the people in the room.
As things stand, Mr Biden leads the electoral vote 306-232. The threshold required for victory is 270. He also leads the national popular vote by a smidgen over six million.
In recent days, the final outcome has been certified in three of the swing states whose results Mr Trump is trying to overturn - Pennsylvania, Michigan and Georgia.
CLAIM 2: Biden ballots were 'dumped' en masse
"This was - very sad to say it - this election was rigged, and we can't let that happen. We can't let it happen for our country. And this election has to be turned around," said the President.
"Because we won Pennsylvania by a lot and we won all of these swing states by a lot.
"Anybody watching television the night of the election was saying wow. I was called by the biggest political people, 'Congratulations sir on a big win.' And all of a sudden, ballots were dumped all over the place. A lot of horrible things happened."
Contrary to Mr Trump's claim that he "won Pennsylvania by a lot", the official tally says Mr Biden won the state by 82,000 votes, or a margin of 1.2 per cent.
It is true that Mr Trump led Pennsylvania, along with Michigan and Wisconsin, by significant margins on election night.
All three of those states reported their election day, in-person vote tallies - which heavily favoured the President - first. Then, gradually, they counted the mail-in vote, which favoured Mr Biden by a similar margin.
This was not remotely surprising. Election experts repeatedly warned it would happen ahead of time, stressing that Mr Trump's initial lead would overstate his actual support. They called the phenomenon a "red mirage" (named for the colour of the Republican Party).
The same thing happened in reverse in other swing states, such as Florida and North Carolina, which allowed election workers to count mail-in votes before election day.
Those states reported their mail votes first, sending Mr Biden out to an early and equally illusory lead. This was the "blue mirage" experts also warned about. Then, as the election day vote trickled in, Mr Trump caught up.
When the President says ballots were "dumped all over the place", what he's referring to is election workers counting the remaining, legally cast votes, most of which came from the large population centres.
He and his lawyers have provided no evidence that any of those votes were fraudulent. Their rhetoric in public has not been matched by their filings in court.
CLAIM 3: Republican observers were obstructed
"Between the voter suppression and all the things that happened to poll watchers. We have poll watcher affidavits piled up to the ceiling. They're all over. They were treated horribly all over this - all of the swing states. I mean, virtually all of the swing states," Mr Trump said.
"And many other things were happening that were horrible, just horrible. But the poll watchers were not allowed to watch. They were in many cases whisked out of the room. Not only into pens that were 20, 30, 40, 60, 100 feet away, where you couldn't even see - they were using binoculars. People were reporting that they had to use binoculars.
"If you were a Republican poll watcher, you were treated like a dog, and the Democrats had no problem. But they were rough, they were literally pushed out, and it was rough tactics.
"What happened here, this is not the United States of America, and I think everybody knows that. That's why you're there and that's why you're so vehement about it."
Republican observers were not "whisked out" of the rooms in which votes were being counted, nor were they stopped from entering in any way, as Mr Trump has repeatedly said in the past.
That claim is false, and Mr Trump's own legal team has previously admitted as much in court.
In one particularly farcical exchange with a judge, one of the President's lawyers conceded there was a "non-zero" number of observers watching the vote count, which is the sort of line you would expect to hear in an episode of Yes Minister.
The other part of Mr Trump's quote, claiming observers were kept too far away from election workers, was recently considered by Pennsylvania's Supreme Court.
The court concluded election officials in Philadelphia did not violate the law, which requires observers from both sides to be allowed inside the room, but does not specify how far away they should be.
Mr Trump's line about observers using binoculars is unverified. Mr Giuliani did present a photo in court, saying it captured one poll watcher doing just that in Philadelphia, but he was unable to say for sure whether the claim was true.
Rather, Mr Giuliani said he had been "told" that's what the photo showed.
CLAIM 4: Voters were told they had already cast ballots
"We have many, many cases. Many, many cases of people walking in. An elderly woman walks in looking forward to voting November 3, and says, 'Oh good, where would I go about voting?' 'I'm sorry, you've already voted. Your ballot is in.' They said, 'I didn't vote. I didn't vote.' 'No your ballot is in, you've already voted,'" said Mr Trump.
"In all cases for Biden, by the way.
"She said, 'No no, I want to vote.' 'Nope, your ballot is in.' And then they give her a provisional ballot to sign, which goes nowhere. It's a disgrace that this is happening to our country."
I'm unsure where, exactly, Mr Trump's anecdote came from here. We'll assume it is from one of the campaign's affidavits.
Many counties in Pennsylvania gave voters the chance to correct technical errors with their mail-in ballots, which otherwise would have led to their votes being discarded.
For example, if a voter sent their ballot in the wrong type of envelope, officials would contact that voter to let them know. The person in question could then show up and cast a provisional ballot to replace the rejected one.
At his media conference last week, Mr Giuliani claimed thousands of Pennsylvanians showed up to cast ballots on election day, only to be told they had already voted. The implication being that someone had already cast a fraudulent ballot in their name.
"Why did it happen 15,000 times, that people in Pittsburgh walked in to vote and they had already voted, according to the Democrat election machine? Did they forget? That many people with bad memories in Pittsburgh?" Mr Giuliani said.
"Or is the following correct, that, as witnesses will testify, they were instructed by the Democrat bosses, when they had a ballot in which there was no one registered, just assign it to somebody, just assign it to Rudy Giuliani?
"So, maybe Rudy Giuliani won't show up to vote. And, if he does show up to vote, we'll give him a provisional ballot. That is what we call circumstantial evidence of the fraud."
None of these witnesses have appeared in court or spoken publicly. Mr Giuliani provided no proof to back up his assertions, and did not explain where his figure of 15,000 came from.
CLAIM 5: No way Trump could lose with 74 million votes
"We won this election by a lot. We got 74 million votes. And if you would have said 74 million votes the day before the election, every single professional in the business would have said there's no way," Mr Trump said.
"We got 11 million more votes than we had four years before, in 2016. And we got many more votes than Ronald Reagan had when he won 49 states. And nobody would have said we even had a chance of losing."
The Republican president Ronald Reagan won 54.4 million votes in 1984, when America's population was about 230 million people. Today it's about 340 million.
President Reagan received 58.8 per cent of the popular vote compared to Democrat Walter Mondale's 40.6 per cent.
This time around, Mr Biden has won 80 million votes and counting. His share of the popular vote, at 51 per cent, is the highest for anyone challenging a sitting president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1932.
Mr Trump has won 47.1 per cent of the popular vote, so while he has indeed earned more raw votes than Mr Reagan in 1984, his share of the electorate is actually far smaller.
CLAIM 5: Thousands of dead people voted
"All you had to do was take a look at the numbers at 10 o'clock in the evening, when everybody thought the election was virtually over. And then very weird things happened," the President continued.
"But they're not weird to professionals, and they're not weird to Dominion, and other people that operate machines. And they're not weird to the people that hail the ballots where they were flooding the market. People were getting two, three, four ballots in their home.
"People that were dead were signing up for ballots. Not only were they coming in and putting in a ballot, but dead people were requesting ballots, and they were dead for years."
This is another area in which the Trump campaign has made broad claims without providing evidence to support them.
In Georgia, for example, the campaign identified four "dead people" whose names had been used to cast ballots. Since then, three of the people in question have been tracked down by journalists. They are very much alive.
A list of 10,000 supposedly dead people who voted in Michigan - widely shared among Mr Trump's supporters on Twitter - also sparked interest from reporters. Again, the people they contacted were alive.
These lists pop up to some extent in every election. They generally include publicly available information such as people's names, birth years and birth months.
The trap people often fall into here is that America is an extremely large country, which means there are often multiple people with the same name and birth year.
So, there might be two John Smiths born in April of 1980, one of whom is dead, the other of whom is alive. John Smith will show up on a list like this, even though it's the living one who actually voted, not the dead one.
There are other factors at work as well. For instance, one of those four Georgia voters was a widow voting legally. The Trump campaign mistakenly thought someone had used her husband's name, James Blalock, to cast an illegal ballot.
In fact, she had voted using her legal name, Mrs James Blalock.
Is this stuff worth investigating? Sure. But such a list, in itself, is not evidence of fraud.
CLAIM 6: Voting machines flipped votes from Trump to Biden
In addition to that issue, you may have noted Mr Trump's passing reference to the Dominion Voting Systems conspiracy theory, which has been debunked by his own government.
He also claimed some voters had received multiple mail-in ballots. There are occasional logistical problems here, with mail-in ballot requests being sent to the wrong address, for example, but it is not possible for one person to cast multiple votes, as the system detects duplicates (as Mr Trump himself noted in his complaint about the provisional ballots).
CLAIM 7: The campaign's affidavits prove widespread fraud
"The whole world is watching us. The whole world is watching the United States of America, and we can't let them get away with it," said Mr Trump.
"And we have judges that are afraid to make a decision. We have judges that don't want to do the same thing. A very good lawyer said, 'Well sir, that's a very big statement for a judge to overthrow an election.' I said, 'Really? If he got hundreds of thousands of votes more, then he was entitled to get, through all the things that I'm listening to right now, and you're just covering a few of them.'
"We have hundreds and hundreds of affidavits of stories that are even worse than the stories I'm hearing. Why wouldn't they overturn the election? Certainly overturn it in your state. Because we have other states that are just as bad."
One of the explanations, perhaps, is that relatively few of the affidavits the Trump legal team claims to have in its possession have actually been presented as evidence in court. Mr Trump and Mr Giuliani say they exist, and argue they prove fraud, but no judge is going to consider proof he or she has not seen.
A small number of the affidavits have already been considered in court. Thus far, they have failed to impress any of the judges.
For example, Judge Timothy Kenny ruled that about half a dozen affidavits from Republican poll watchers in Michigan were "incorrect and not credible", saying the people in question did not "have a full understanding" of the vote-counting process.
That is polite judge-speak for saying they had no idea what they were talking about. You can read Judge Kenny's full decision here.
Here you can watch another judge, this time in Arizona, taking Mr Trump's lawyers to task for the, shall we say, less than rigorous way they solicited and screened their affidavits.
ICYMI:— Adam Klasfeld (@KlasfeldReports) November 20, 2020
A supercut of an Arizona judge examining the electronic form-letter affidavit collection process used by the Trump campaign to support one since-dismissed case.
It yielded lies and "spam."
Spoiler alert: He didn't let in the dodgy affidavits: https://t.co/iIy9SIIaxL https://t.co/dWOLCuJHdG pic.twitter.com/hse0Iyjprq
CLAIM 8: More votes than voters in Detroit
"If you look at Michigan with Detroit. You look at the things that happened in Detroit. Where you have a voter, but you have more votes than you have voters. You take a look at Detroit, Michigan. You have more votes than you have voters," said Mr Trump.
"And then you have two people that don't want to certify. They don't want to certify. And they're harassed violently, and they turned off the cameras during the harassment for two hours.
"And then they said wow, and they were afraid and they voted. And they went back to sign and they couldn't do it. They said, 'We can't do it, because this is corrupt, this is horrible what's taking place.'
"Think of it. More votes than you had voters. But that was the least of it! They had things that were as bad as that. And this is going on all over, all over."
There are about 670,000 people living in Detroit, according to the US Census Bureau's most recent figures. About 500,000 of them are registered voters, and 250,000 cast ballots in this election.
Mr Giuliani has previously claimed there was a huge "overvote" in Michigan more broadly, with some precincts reporting up to 300 per cent turnout.
His figures came from an affidavit authored by a former Republican congressional candidate, which was marred by a series of whopping errors - most significantly, it cited precincts from the wrong state, Minnesota. And its turnout numbers were wrong anyway.
CLAIM 9: Canvassers did not want to certify the results
Mr Trump also referred to two Republican canvassers in Wayne County, Michigan, which encompasses Detroit. The two people in question initially voted against certifying the county's results, then changed their minds a few hours later after suffering a public backlash.
The next day - after speaking to the President - the pair said they wanted to withdraw their votes to certify, but by then it was too late.
One of the Republicans in particular, Monica Palmer, has said she received threats and abuse in response to her initial decision. Michigan's Attorney-General Dana Nessel, a Democrat, says her office is "actively investigating" those threats.
The video feed of a Wayne County Board of Canvassers meeting did suffer some brief technical issues during the process, though it was not down for "two hours" and was not "turned off" on purpose, as the President suggested.
CLAIM 10: Observers 'kept out of the building' in Philadelphia
"We're doing very well at a lot of states. A lot of good things are happening in Georgia, we're getting little help from government, but a lot of things are happening in Georgia," Mr Trump said.
"Wisconsin, and Michigan, they're seeing what happened in Detroit. And we sure are looking at what's happened in Pennsylvania and Philadelphia.
"What happened in Philadelphia, they keep the poll watchers - not only in pens, but they keep them out of the building. And they only reason they got back into the building was they got a court order. And then the definition of 'back into the building' was very far away where they couldn't see anything."
I dealt with most of this earlier. Republican poll watchers were not "kept out of the building" in Philadelphia.
The court order in question came during the vote count, on November 5. A judge ruled that poll watchers should be allowed to stand closer to the election workers - six feet (about two metres) away, to be precise.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has since overruled that lower court decision.
CLAIM 11: People voted illegally after election day
"They have to turn over the results. It would be easy for me to say, 'Oh let's worry about four years from now.' No. This election was lost by the Democrats. They cheated. It was a fraudulent election," Mr Trump argued.
"They flooded the market. They flooded everybody with ballots."
Mr Giuliani and Ms Ellis applauded that statement, and the rest of the room joined in.
"I just want to thank everybody for being there. You're doing an important service. And this is a very important moment in the history of our country," said the President.
"Don't be intimidated by these people. But they're bad people. They're horrible people. And they're people that don't love our country.
"So we don't have to worry about four years from now. We have to worry about what happened on November 3rd and previous to November 3rd.
"And by the way, after November 3rd, when people put votes in, and they put them in illegally. They put them in after the polls closed.
"And one of our great Supreme Court justices made mention of that, and I can't imagine that any justice or anybody looking at it could be thrilled, when they vote after the election is over."
At issue here is the deadline for accepting and counting mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania.
America's states all set their own election rules. Many of them allow mail-in ballots to arrive up to a certain point after election day and still get counted, as long as they were mailed before the polls closed.
Before this election, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered that the deadline be extended until three days after polling day, the logic being that the coronavirus pandemic might cause postal delays.
There is an ongoing legal debate over that decision, and whether the court actually had the power to issue such an order. The Trump campaign certainly has a case.
To be clear though, we are not talking about people casting their votes after election day. We're talking about ballots that were cast on or before election day but arrived late.
And we're talking about a relatively small batch of ballots, far fewer than it would take to change the result in Pennsylvania.
Mr Trump mentioned a Supreme Court justice. He was referring to Justice Samuel Alito, who ordered election workers to "segregate" late-arriving mail-in ballots from the rest during the vote count.
Officials said they were already doing that anyway.
CLAIM 12: Trump's lawsuits involve more ballots than he needs
"We're talking about, importantly, many more ballots, many more votes, than the number we need. In other words, if we needed 50,000 votes, we're not talking about we found nine dead people that voted - of course, there were many more than that - numbers that nobody even believes," Mr Trump said.
"No, we're talking about numbers that are far in excess of the 50,000. Far in excess of another state, where we lost by 10,000.
"And they went absolutely wild, because we got far more votes than they thought possible. And they've just stepped on the gas, and they got caught. Just like they got caught spying on my campaign, they got caught doing this."
First of all, the President's numbers are wrong. The only lawsuit that involved enough votes to overturn a state's result was the one seeking to stop the entire state of Pennsylvania from certifying its figures - which got tossed out of court a few days ago.
Judge Matthew Brann was unimpressed by the Trump campaign's argument, and that is putting it very, very mildly. Mr Giuliani is now seeking to appeal his judgment.
CLAIM 13: Obama got caught spying on Trump's (last) campaign
We also had a last-minute cameo from the President's Obamagate conspiracy theory there. The short version of it is this: Mr Trump believes Barack Obama illegally directed US intelligence agencies to surveil his 2016 presidential campaign.
Multiple investigations, conducted by both major parties in Congress and Mr Trump's own Justice Department, found no evidence the former president was involved in initiating the FBI's investigation into Russia's election interference, which targeted four people with ties to the Trump campaign.
"We did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced the decision to open Crossfire Hurricane," the Justice Department Inspector-General said in his report, using the FBI operation's code name.
The investigations also found no evidence that Mr Obama interfered in the investigation after it had started.
CLAIM 14: The evidence is 'pouring in'
"So I really appreciate it, and the country appreciates it, and we have to turn the election over, because there's no doubt - we have all the evidence, all the affidavits, we have everything. All we need is to have some judge listen to it properly without having a political opinion or having another kind of a problem," Mr Trump said, summing up.
"Because we have everything. And by the way, the evidence is pouring in now, as we speak."
I look forward to the moment when this long-awaited evidence finally shows up in court.
Originally published as Trump lays out remaining election claims