Senior members of the Republican Party appeared to be taken aback when President Donald Trump invited reporters supporters into the East Room in the wee hours of the morning to falsely claim that he had won in states where mail-in ballots were still being counted, though he said he wanted counting to continue in states where he was behind. He also prematurely called himself the winner of the election. “To me, this is a very sad moment, and we will win this. And as far as I’m concerned, we already have,” he told the crowd (via The Washington Post).

His comments drew criticism from his own ranks, many of whom broke with the president both on television and on social media. GOP Congressman Adam Kinzinger picked up the president’s tweet on the subject (which has since been labeled misleading by Twitter), with his response which read: “Stop. Full stop. The votes will be counted and you will either win or lose. And America will accept that. Patience is a virtue.”

GOP election lawyer Ben Ginsberg told CNN’s Jake Tapper that: “If you have objections to either the particular ballots or to the process, then you have remedies after the fact … but these are legally cast ballots … or at least will be determined to be legally cast ballots by the appropriate local county and state officials. And for a president to say we are going to disenfranchise those legally cast ballots — it really is extraordinary,” Ginsberg said (via CNN).

Prominent GOPers criticized Trump for his comments

Trump associate and former New Jersey governor Chris Christie also weighed in on the president’s comments, telling ABC News: “I talk tonight … as a former U.S. Attorney. There’s just no basis to make that argument tonight. There just isn’t. I disagree with what he did tonight” (via The New York Times). Former GOP Senator for Pennsylvania Rick Santorum also told CNN: “I was very distressed by what I just heard the president say.”

Some of the strongest criticisms of Trump’s late night speech came from Fox News anchor and moderator of the first debate Chris Wallace, who said on his show that, “This is an extremely flammable situation, and the president just threw a match on it. He hasn’t won these states. Nobody is saying he’s won the states. The states haven’t said that he’s won.” And popular conservative commentator Ben Shapiro tweeted: “No, Trump has not already won the election, and it is deeply irresponsible for him to say he has.”

The New York Times reports the comments were carried live by all the major networks at 2:30 a.m., and while most offered a fact check after wards, NBC and MSNBC did not wait for him to finish. The Washington Post reminded its readers that it could be days, possibly even weeks, before official results are in. And thanks to the pandemic and the volume of mail-in ballots, vote tallying has become even more complicated.

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