President Donald Trump is prematurely declaring victory in a handful of hotly-contested battleground states via tweets Wednesday, challenging Twitter’s rules against making premature election result claims.
“We have claimed, for Electoral Vote purposes, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (which won’t allow legal observers) the State of Georgia, and the State of North Carolina, each one of which has a Big Trump lead,” Trump tweeted Wednesday.
Twitter started applying labels to the offending tweets shortly after they were posted. More than 1 million ballots are still to be counted in Pennsylvania, and election officials are not legally required to finish their count before Friday. Most importantly, the president has no authority to certify voting results; that power rests with state election officials. No major news organization has called the state for either candidate.
Trump’s premature announcement followed a flood of tweets from his inner circle declaring a false victory in Pennsylvania earlier on Wednesday. Trump’s son, Eric Trump, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, and the Trump reelection campaign’s Twitter account, @TeamTrump, all tweeted out messages prematurely declaring a Trump victory in Pennsylvania within 10 minutes of each other, apparently unprompted by any source outside the campaign. Campaign director Bill Stepien also told reporters that the campaign had won Pennsylvania, but gave no factual basis for the claim.
On Monday, Twitter announced that it would label tweets making claims about election results until at least two preapproved news outlets declared winners. These outlets include ABC News, the Associated Press, CNN, Decision Desk HQ, Fox News, and NBC News. As of publication, none of these outlets have declared a presidential victor in Pennsylvania.
Trump has made a series of false or misleading claims about election results as of Wednesday. Twitter labeled four of Trump’s Wednesday tweets as violating their rules and restricted engagement with the posts.
The Trump campaign has filed lawsuits to halt the counting of votes in both Michigan and Pennsylvania, but neither lawsuit has been approved by a court. In Michigan, Trump supporters have rallied outside the convention center where vote counting is taking place, in an apparent attempt to pressure election workers into ceasing the count. In Wisconsin, where Biden has already pulled ahead, the Trump campaign has pushed for a recount.
Updated November 4th, 2020 at 5:26PM ET: Updated to include news of the President’s tweets and Twitter’s response.