President Donald Trump prematurely claimed victory in the 2020 election early Wednesday morning, telling a live TV audience that he’d already won — while also threatening to take legal action against votes that have yet to be counted, even though many states are continuing to process legitimate mail-in ballots.
“Frankly, we did win this election,” Trump said, while also suggesting he would take legal action to keep further ballots from being counted.
Initially, Trump stopped short of declaring a win, instead focusing on individual states where he’s done well. Even there, however, he appears to have lied about some of the details — prompting NBC News to cut him off and fact-check him in real time:
NBC News cuts off Trump. Savannah Guthrie: “We’ve got to dip in here because there’ve been several statements that are just frankly not true.” pic.twitter.com/4cUCqqMRR8
— Brent Baker (@BrentHBaker) November 4, 2020
At one point earlier in the speech, Trump said he wanted to curtail voting, and said he’d go to the Supreme Court, though it was unclear what for. “We’ll be going to the US Supreme Court; we want all voting to stop, we don’t want them to find any ballots at 4 o’clock in the morning and add them to the list,” he said, falsely suggesting that those remaining ballots are somehow illegal.
But near the end of his speech, Trump falsely declared a win in the presidential race. He called it a “fraud on the American public” and “an embarrassment to our country” that he hasn’t been able to celebrate that win yet.
While CNN didn’t fact check Trump during his speech, it did call him out after the airing, clearly pointing out that he has not yet won and that states haven’t certified results yet. That kind of clear language is in some ways a step beyond what we saw from Twitter and Facebook, which put labels (and in the case of Twitter, sharing restrictions) on a misleading tweet from Trump late on Tuesday evening. After the speech, however, Facebook put a generic warning about vote counts at the top of Facebook and Instagram feeds:
Once President Trump began making premature claims of victory, we started running notifications on Facebook and Instagram that votes are still being counted and a winner is not projected. We’re also automatically applying labels to both candidates’ posts with this information. pic.twitter.com/tuGGLJkwcy
— Facebook Newsroom (@fbnewsroom) November 4, 2020