Offering irresistibly low-hanging fruit for political rivals, pundits, and late-night comedians—who all devoured it with gusto—President Donald Trump was lambasted Wednesday and Thursday for simultaneously suing to stop the vote counting process in key battleground states where he clings to a precarious lead in the 2020 presidential contest, while urging election officials in states where he narrowly trails Democrat Joe Biden to keep counting.
The Trump campaign filed lawsuits in Georgia, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, calling for an end to vote tallying in the latter two states until it could obtain what it called "meaninful access" to ballots it wishes to review. The suits came as the president and some of his backers accused Pennsylvania election officials of "fraud"—without providing any evidence to support their allegations. State Attorney General Josh Shapiro fired back that the president's lawsuit was "more a political document than a legal document."
In a bid to cast aspersions and doubt upon the vote-counting process in the days after Election Day, Trump tweeted numerous lies that were quickly slapped with warning labels or hidden by the site's administrators. One glaring example:
They are working hard to make up 500,000 vote advantage in Pennsylvania disappear — ASAP. Likewise, Michigan and others!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 4, 2020
Critics in the worlds of politics, media, and entertainment were quick to skewer Trump's latest hypocrisy.
"In 2016, when Trump won PA, MI, and WI by a handful of votes, the election system worked just great," tweeted Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). "Now that he's losing, it's a 'fraud' and they're 'stealing the election.'"
"This is how demagogues destroy faith in democracy and move us toward authoritarianism," the former 2020 Democratic presidential candidate added. "Count every vote!"
Rep. Ilhan Omar noted that it is "very curious how Trump is demanding the counting stop in Pennsylvania, but staying quiet about the counting in Arizona and Nevada even Alaska," asking rhetorically, "I wonder what that's about?"
Other observers also weighed in on the president's lies and hypocrisy:
As I understand the state of the race, Trump is seeking various forms of relief in his lawsuits:
- recount WI
- stop counting in NC
- count faster in NV
- count backwards in PA
- count only the ballots he likes in GA
- don't count Detroit
— Nancy Leong (@nancyleong) November 4, 2020
In AZ Trump supporters are chanting “Count the Vote.” In PA they’re chanting “Stop the Count.” That kind of irrationally and hypocrisy is the perfect ending to the Trump era. The fact that half the country can’t see how absurd that is the saddest thing of all. #AlternativeChants
— Cenk Uygur (@cenkuygur) November 5, 2020
In Arizona, Trump supporters are outside of polling locations chanting "COUNT THE VOTE."
In Pennsylvania, Trump supporters are outside of polling locations chanting, "STOP THE COUNT."
— Shaun King (@shaunking) November 5, 2020
It wasn't long before numerous video mash-ups showed protesting Trump supporters alternately chanting "count the votes" and "stop the vote"—depending upon whether the president was ahead or behind in their state.
Others pointed out that a very similar scenario once played out on the popular HBO political satire Veep, right down to confused voters like the Phoenix-area Trump supporters who chanted "stop the count" even though the president trailed Biden in Arizona.
uh guys those are the votes you want to have counted, guys https://t.co/lSWFKtLRsA
— Philip Bump (@pbump) November 5, 2020
Late-night television hosts naturally had a good go at Trump too.
"I thought if your election lasted more than 48 hours you're supposed to seek medical attention," quipped Jimmy Kimmel, host of the eponymous "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" on ABC on Wednesday night. Kimmel, who joked that the race was "closer than Donald and Ivanka at a father-daughter dance," also took on the topic of Trump's hypocrisy.
"Right. Stop counting the votes," Kimmel deadpanned. "Stop counting the votes in the states where I'm ahead, in the states we're not, keep tallying, OK?"
Beyond all the tweets and jokes was a president who appeared increasingly desperate as his path to victory narrowed to near the point of being unwalkable. As Biden was leading or closing in on Trump in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, and Pennsylvania and holding a 253 to 214 Electoral College lead—with 270 electoral votes needed for victory—the president delivered a lie-laden Thursday evening White House address that Omar called "pathetic" and "simply painful to watch." The speech was widely derided by not only Democrats but also Republicans including Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Maryland Governor Larry Hogan.