US Election: Rants, lawsuits, and spats as Joe Biden edges towards victory
When President Donald Trump made his first tweet of the day as America woke up, the world was watching.
“STOP THE COUNT!” he shouted, referring to postal votes still being tallied up in states such as Pennsylvania. Yet, his calls appeared to be somewhat conflicted with his supporters in states such as Arizona, where Republicans have also been calling for every vote to count, amid beliefs that Mr Biden may have taken victory there.
Two days after election day, neither candidate has amassed the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the White House. The Trump campaign is taking legal action to contest the counts in the key states of Nevada, Wisconsin, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Michigan.
Some media have already declared that Mr Biden has won in Michigan and Wisconsin, although those states have not yet been officially confirmed. If he was to win both of those, plus Pennsylvania, he would be declared the next president of the United States.
However none of that is certain, there are still other battlegrounds to be fought.
In Georgia, which is traditionally conservative and has not had a Democrat win in a presidential election since 1992, Mr Trump is currently standing at around 18,000 votes clear however, there are 67,000 votes still to be counted, from mainly Democrat-leaning counties.
In Arizona and Nevada, Mr Biden is in the lead, but the gap is closing. In Pennsylvania, the opposite is true: Trump is in the lead but Biden is closing, making the President jumpy.
Despite the Trump campaign’s best efforts to stop votes being counted, the Attorney General of Pennsylvania has said there is no way he will allow legitimate votes not to be counted. The prolonged count has been long expected, due to the state's legislature, which blocks the counting of early and postal votes from beginning before election day.
Trump campaign officials, Corey Lewandowski and Pam Bondi appeared at the Philadelphia Convention Center, where the votes are being counted, insisting that they had a court order to go inside and observe the voting process.
Ms Bondi said: “If there is one illegal vote that is cast, it takes away from the great men and women of Pennsylvania who came out to vote legally.”
However, the move to halt the count in Pennsylvania could easily backfire on Mr Trump. Although early and postal votes are often believed to be heavily Democrat – the voters tend to be younger and are keen to vote early, compared to the older more traditional Republicans who prefer to visit a polling station in person – military votes are also made by post and many of them are likely to be in favour of Mr Trump.
With millions of votes yet to be counted, Mr Biden has already received more than 71 million votes, the most in history.
The former vice president said he expected to win the presidency but stopped short of outright declaring victory. His words suggested a unification of the country which many Democrat voters have said they crave amid a period of increasing polarity in the US.
"When the count is finished, we believe we will be the winners,” Mr Biden said. “I will govern as an American president. There will be no red states and blue states when we win. Just the United States of America."
He added: “The presidency itself is not a partisan institution."
The president had earlier falsely claimed victory, as he warned a "fraud on the American nation" was being carried out over the way votes were being counted. He has made apparently unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud.
By midday on the east coast in the US, Mr Trump had already had two of his numerous tweets, some now appearing in capitals, hidden by Twitter, which said that they could be “disputed” and “might be misleading about an election” – a theme of his social media campaign in recent days.
Mr Biden's campaign said the president's extraordinary comments, made in the White House against a backdrop of US flags, were a "naked attempt to take away the democratic rights of American citizens".
His team accused the Trump camp of “continuing to push a failing strategy” of lawsuits and called the legal challenges “nothing more than an attempt to distract and delay what is now inevitable - Joseph Biden is going to be the next president of the United States". Campaign manager Jen O'Malley Dillon urged supporters to "stay patient and stay calm" as vote counting continues.
Mr Trump’s insistence of a recount in Wisconsin, which has been projected for the Democrats, is unlikely to have much effect: statewide recounts in Wisconsin have historically changed the vote tally by only a few hundred votes – yet the Democrats led by more than 20,000 ballots out of nearly 3.3 million counted.
The spat played out across the country as dozens of angry supporters of Trump converged on vote-counting centres in Detroit and Phoenix as returns went against the president in the two key states, while thousands of anti-Trump protesters demanding a complete count of the ballots in the still-undecided election took to the streets in cities across the country.
The Republican Party in Nevada confirmed it is planning to file a lawsuit in the state, amid claims that around 10,000 votes were cast by people who no longer live there.
Overall turnout is projected to be the highest in 120 years at 66.9 per cent.