Confident Biden edges ahead in US election as Trump claims fraud
BERLIN/WASHINGTON • The head of an international observer mission to the US elections accused Donald Trump yesterday of a “gross abuse of office” after the president alleged he was being cheated and demanded that vote counting be halted.
“The most disturbing thing was that with presidential fanfare of the White House, that is, with all the insignia of power, the American commander-in-chief called for an end to the count because of his purported victory,” Michael Link told the German daily Stuttgarter Zeitung.
“That was a gross abuse of office,” he said, adding that Trump’s “claims of manipulation are baseless”.
Link, who works for the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), warned that Trump’s repeated false allegations of fraud could have far-reaching consequences.
“The major concern is that the US will not be able put back into the bottle the genie that Trump has let out.
“Even if he were to admit defeat and hand over office properly, his supporters, incited by rhetoric, may see violence as a legitimate tool because they no longer feel democratically represented,” said Link.
And that is “a danger that goes far beyond election day”, added the mission chief of the OSCE, which monitors elections throughout Western nations and the former Soviet Union.
On Wednesday, the mission already released a statement saying that there was no basis to Trump’s claims of cheating, and that Tuesday’s vote was “competitive and well managed”.
Trump, 74, has claimed victory unilaterally before counting in key battleground states has concluded. He has also made clear he would not accept the reported results, issuing unprecedented complaints — unsupported by any evidence — of fraud.
Meanwhile, the knife-edge US presidential race tilted toward Democrat Joe Biden early yesterday, with wins in Michigan and Wisconsin bringing him close to a majority, but Trump claimed he was being cheated and went to court to try and stop vote counting.
Tallying of votes continued through a second night in the remaining battleground states where huge turnout and a mountain of mail-in ballots sent by voters trying to avoid exposure to the coronavirus made the job all the harder.
Both men still had paths to winning the White House by hitting the magic majority threshold of 270 of the electoral votes awarded to whichever candidate wins the popular vote in a given state.
But momentum moved to Biden, who made a televised speech from his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, to say that “when the count is finished, we believe we will be the winners”.
By flipping the northern battlegrounds of Michigan and Wisconsin, and also winning formerly pro-Trump Arizona, Biden reached 264 electoral votes against 214 so far for Trump (at press time).
To reach 270, he was hoping next to add the six electoral votes from Nevada, where he had a small and shrinking lead, or, even better, the larger prizes of hard-fought Georgia or Pennsylvania.
In stark contrast to Trump’s unprecedented rhetoric about being cheated, Biden sought to project calm, reaching out to a nation torn by four years of polarising leadership and traumatised by the Covid-19 pandemic, with new daily infections on Wednesday close to hitting 100,000 for the first time.
“We have to stop treating our opponents as enemies,” Biden, 77, said. “What brings us together as Americans is so much stronger than anything that can tear us apart.”
However, Trump’s campaign announced lawsuits in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Georgia, and demanded a recount in Wisconsin.