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Democrat Joe Biden has overtaken Trump's lead in the two battleground states, inching him closer to a possible victory. Angry protests have been reported at vote counting centers elsewhere. Follow the latest with DW.
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16:18 Philadelphia police said they arrested two armed men on Thursday for not having permits to carry firearms, near the state convention center, where vote-counting is ongoing.
Police said they had received a tip that armed individuals were on their way to the convention center in Philadelphia in a Hummer truck. Both men are set to face firearm charges but have not been formally charged yet.
On Thursday, groups of Trump supporters gathered at ballot-counting sites in Phoenix, Detroit and Philadelphia, baselessly claiming that votes putting Biden in the lead were a result of election fraud, and chanting "stop the count."
15:50 Georgia said it will recount votes, in the state where Biden has secured a very slight lead over Trump.
"With a margin that small, there will be a recount in Georgia," Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger told reporters in Atlanta.
14:58 Trump's campaign said "this election is not over" after Biden took the lead in two key states. Trump needs to win both the states to be reelected, according to current AP predictions of the vote outcomes across the country.
"This election is not over. The false projection of Joe Biden as the winner is based on results in four states that are far from final," said Trump campaign general counsel Matt Morgan in a statement. He continued to allege voter fraud and irregularities in Georgia, Pennsylvania and Nevada.
"Georgia is headed for a recount, where we are confident we will find ballots improperly harvested, and where President Trump will ultimately prevail.
"Biden is relying on these states for his phony claim on the White House, but once the election is final, President Trump will be re-elected," Morgan said.
14:46 Some Republican lawmakers have publicly broken with Trump over his allegations of election fraud, saying that his comments undermine the democratic process.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a Republican from Illinois, called the president's claims that Democrats were trying to steal the election, "insane."
"If you have legit concerns about fraud present EVIDENCE and take it to court. STOP Spreading debunked misinformation... This is getting insane," Kinzinger tweeted.
Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican who was an early presidential candidate in the 2016, and who recently spoke at a Trump campaign rally, called for "faith" in the election.
"Faith in our election is as important as the outcome. Preserving it requires not allowing the outcome to be decided by either the media or a candidate. Transparently count every legally cast vote & allow courts to decide claims of irregularities or fraud on the basis of evidence," Rubio tweeted.
Maryland GOP Gov. Larry Hogan, a potential 2024 presidential hopeful, said there was "no defense" for Trump's comments.
"There is no defense for the President’s comments tonight undermining our Democratic process. America is counting the votes, and we must respect the results as we always have before. No election or person is more important than our Democracy," Hogan tweeted.
14:00 Democratic Party candidate Joe Biden has taken the lead in Pennsylvania over President Donald Trump. With 98% of all votes reported, Biden holds 49.5% of the ballots counted compared with 49.4% for Trump.
If Trump doesn't win Pennsylvania's 20 electoral votes, he will not be able to be reelected.
12:55 DW FACT CHECK:
Claim: President Trump's son Eric Trump retweeted a video that supposedly shows 80 mail-in ballots being burned.
The video went viral on social media and was viewed more than a million times before being deleted then repeatedly reposted.
Many people retweeted the footage claiming it was evidence of what several Republicans, including the president, have been stating for weeks — that mail-in ballots lead to fraud and are more susceptible to tampering.
However, the video shows sample ballots from Virginia Beach, as the City confirmed on its website.
City officials pointed out that the burned sample ballots didn’t have any bar code on them, which can be found on actual ballots.
So in reality, the video doesn’t show votes for Trump being destroyed, it’s just paper being burned. What the video does suggest is that bad actors are trying to make people believe that their ballots weren't counted.
12:44 German Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) still does not want to comment on the US election, her spokesman Steffen Seibert said Friday.
He told reporters that as there is still no final result and the counting of votes in several states is still in progress, it's important to wait and see: "And that's what the chancellor is doing; that is what the federal government is doing."
Earlier, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas issued veiled criticism of President Donald Trump, telling the RND media group that the US is "more than a one-man show" and that "good losers are more important for democracy to work than great winners."
"Those who continue to add fuel to the fire in the current situation are acting irresponsibly," he added.
12:26 DW FACT CHECK:
Claim: A viral video shows a man rolling a wagon into a vote tallying center in Detroit. The woman recording — Kellye SoRelle, a member of Lawyers for Trump — insinuated there may be a ballot box in the wagon with fraudulent ballots.
“Where’d this little guy come so late at night?” she said. Later people on social media claimed that there were 130,000 votes in that black box.
The interpretation of the video is totally wrong. This story shows us how fast misinformation can be spread via social networks. What seemed to be a scoop for the lawyer, turns out to be something totally different.
The man in the video was a local TV videographer wheeling in equipment to cover the night of vote counting.
The station WXYZ easily debunked this story by showing the suspicious red wagon and the black box of camera material.
The article claiming this was a case of fraud, which appeared on the conservative news site Texas Scorecard, has since been taken down.
11:55 Supporters of Donald Trump, some carrying guns, ramped up demonstrations on Thursday night against what he has baselessly called a rigged election, in battleground states where votes were still being counted.
In Arizona, one of the closely contested states in the too-close-to-call race, supporters of both Trump and Democratic rival Joe Biden briefly scuffled outside the Maricopa County Elections Department in Phoenix.
Several heavily armed right-wing groups assembled on the site as election workers counted votes inside, but the protests remained mostly peaceful despite mounting tension.
In Philadelphia, police said they arrested two men and seized a weapon as part of an investigation into a purported plot to attack the city's Pennsylvania Convention Center, where votes were being counted.
Pro-Trump and pro-Biden demonstrators demonstrated peacefully in Philadelphia, separated by waist-high portable barriers under a strong police presence.
In Milwaukee, some 50 Trump supporters gathered for a "Stop the Steal" rally in front of a city building where votes were being counted, blasting country music, waving flags and carrying signs reading "Recount" and "Rigged."
10:38 German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) has supported Democrat Joe Biden's call for patience over the US election result. “Everyone has to be patient. The election results are tight everywhere,” Maas told public broadcaster ZDF's Morgenmagazin program.
The minister added that he didn't consider recounts to be "such a problematic process" when the outcome is tight.
In separate remarks to the RND media group Friday, Maas said the US is "more than a one-man show" and that "good losers are more important for democracy to work than great winners."
"Those who continue to add fuel to the fire in the current situation are acting irresponsibly," he said, in a veiled criticism of US President Donald Trump, who on Thursday doubled-down on baseless claims of election fraud and legal threats.
10:18 Joe Biden is to receive additional protection from Secret Service agents as his chances of winning the election grow.
The former vice president will receive protection from supplementary agents to remain at the Chase Centre in Wilmington, Delaware, where he is currently settled with his staff under the protection of a dozen agents, the Washington Post reported, citing anonymous sources.
According to the report, additional agents will be dispatched to the convention center to increase security there from Friday, while Biden prepares to make a major speech.
09:53 Joe Biden has pulled ahead in the crucial battleground state of Georgia, US media reported Friday, with votes still left to count. The former vice president ate away at Donald Trump's initial lead in the southern state and is now ahead by 917 votes, according to CNN and Fox News.
Trump won Georgia, which has 16 electoral college votes, by five percentage points in 2016.
The contest is still too early to call as thousands of ballots are still left to be counted — many in counties where the former vice president was in the lead.
There is a potential that the race could go to a recount. Under Georgia law, if the margin between Biden and Trump is under half a percentage point of difference, a recount can be requested.
09:10 The US election result is being eagerly awaited in Europe, where Donald Trump's protectionist policies and aggressive rhetoric have been blamed for weakening transatlantic ties. EU trade official Bernd Lange told DW on Friday that Trump's four years in power had caused "serious problems" for trade between the two powers.
Lange said the spat between Airbus and Boeing over claims that both manufacturers received unfair subsidies, as well as US tariffs on European steel and aluminum were due to "the unilateral approach of Mr. Trump."
He said if Democratic candidate Joe Biden were to win the White House, he would: "stick to the multilateral system, give more emphasis to the World Trade Organization and bring conflicts to the rules-based system."
Despite hopes for improved ties, Lange ruled out returning to negotiations for an EU-US trade agreement after the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) — said to be the largest bilateral trade initiative ever negotiated — broke down last year.
07:35 Here is the current state of the race:
Democrat Joe Biden has a 264 to 214 lead in the state-by-state Electoral College (EC) vote that determines the winner, according to The Associated Press. The AP has called Arizona for Biden, although most other US media outlets are yet to call the state.
Either candidate needs to win 270 EC votes to secure the White House.
Four states — Pennsylvania, Arizona, Georgia and Nevada — could now decide the winner. Ballot counting continues Friday, with Biden still confident of capturing the presidency.
Although President Donald Trump held a 675,000-vote lead in Pennsylvania early Wednesday, that has slipped to about 18,000, as mail-in ballots from across the state continued to be counted. The late counted ballots were overwhelmingly in Biden's favor.
Under state law, elections officials are not allowed to process mail-in ballots until Election Day.
If Biden were to hold a lead in Arizona, which narrowed to around 47,000 votes on Thursday, any other state coming in for him will likely push him over the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the presidency.
In Nevada, Biden's narrow lead widened slightly to around 11,400 votes as tallies from the Las Vegas area were awaited, while Trump's once commanding lead in Georgia slowly dwindled to a near-tie with less than 2,000 votes separating them.
The president, meanwhile, has doubled-down on baseless claims of fraud and legal threats seeking to undermine the election results.
06:43 Facebook has banned a large group called "Stop the Steal'' that Trump supporters were using to organize protests against the vote count. Some members had called for violence, while many falsely claimed that Democrats are "stealing" the election from Republicans. The group amassed more than 350,000 members before Facebook took it down.
"In line with the exceptional measures that we are taking during this period of heightened tension, we have removed the Group 'Stop the Steal,' which was creating real-world events," Facebook said in a statement. "The group was organized around the delegitimization of the election process, and we saw worrying calls for violence from some members of the group."
Group backers said they were organizing peaceful protests, had been working hard to police the comments and that Facebook had given no warning. Chris Barron, a spokesman for the group, said political opponents were also organizing protests but had no been banned.
A copycat group was growing steadily, nearing 13,000 members, and others were easily searchable on Facebook.
Twitter, meanwhile has banned an account used by former Trump advisor Steve Bannon. The right-wing provocateur had called for the beheading of Dr. Anthony Fauci, a lead member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, and FBI Director Christopher Wray on his talk show.
06:17 Philadelphia police say they are investigating an alleged plot to attack the venue where votes from the hotly contested election are being counted.
Local police received a tip about a Hummer with armed people driving up from Virginia with plans to attack the city's Pennsylvania Convention Center, a police representative said.
US media reported that two men were arrested and the vehicle and at least one weapon were seized. No injuries were reported and no further details about the alleged plot were disclosed.
On Thursday, supporters of both President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden held rallies in Philadelphia as election staffers slowly counted thousands of mail-in ballots that could decide Pennsylvania's crucial 20 Electoral College votes.
05:54 The US Postal Service (USPS) says about 1,700 mail-in ballots were identified at processing facilities in Pennsylvania during two sweeps Thursday and were being delivered to election officials.
In a court filing early Friday, USPS said about 1,070 ballots, had been found at the USPS Philadelphia Processing and Distribution Center. About 300 were found at the Pittsburgh processing center, 266 at a Lehigh Valley facility and others found at other Pennsylvania processing centers, Reuters reported.
Ballots must be received by Friday evening in Pennsylvania in order to be counted.
The latest reports suggest Trump's lead in Pennsylvania has narrowed to just over 26,000 voters or a margin of 0.4%.
About 500 ballots were also discovered in North Carolina during sweeps, USPS said on Friday.
05:35 US election officials in several states say they are worried about the safety of their staff amid a stream of threats and gatherings of angry protesters outside their doors. The protesters have been drawn by President Donald Trump's baseless claims of widespread fraud in the race for the White House.
Small groups of Trump supporters have gathered at vote tabulation sites in Phoenix, Detroit and Philadelphia, decrying counts that showed Democrat Joe Biden leading or gaining ground. One official issued a plea on Twitter to "stop making harassing & threatening calls'' to her staff.
04:16 Joe Biden continues to close the gap with Donald Trump in Pennsylvania and its 20 electoral votes, with the latest reports narrowing Trump's lead in the battleground state to slightly more than 26,000 votes, or a margin of 0.4%. Winning both Pennsylvania and Georgia is critical for Trump's reelection chances.
02:58 Biden has significantly narrowed the margin in the southern state of Georgia to around 1,900 votes, with both candidates now neck-and-neck at 47.4%. An estimated 98% of the total vote has been reported, with several thousand ballots remaining uncounted. Biden's surge comes as Democrat-leaning counties around the state capital, Atlanta, report mail-in ballots.
02:41 President Trump's lead in the crucial state of Pennsylvania is rapidly shrinking, with around 42,000 votes separating the president from Joe Biden. Only hours ago, Trump was leading Biden by more than 100,000 votes. Biden's surge is coming from mail-in ballots, which were counted after in-person voting gave Trump his early lead.
Earlier Thursday evening, Trump claimed ballot counting in Pennsylvania was "corrupt" and "controlled by democrats." Pennsylvania's top election official has said there is no evidence of fraud during ballot counts anywhere in the state. If Biden wins Pennsylvania's 20 electoral votes, he will become the US president-elect.
02:12 A new batch of ballot results reported in Arizona's most-populous Maricopa county shows Biden's lead over Trump shrinking to just over 46,000 votes, or a margin of 1.5%. An estimated 90% of Arizona's total votes have been counted, and over 200,000 ballots are left to be processed. Arizona election officials said Maricopa county will issue more results Friday morning local time. The AP projected a Biden victory for Arizona early Wednesday morning, despite millions of votes left to be counted. DW uses AP figures.
01:50 Following Trump's speech alleging massive electoral fraud, Joe Biden tweeted "no one" would take away American democracy.
01:23 "Many fear that this will not end well, that [Trump's] speech is a dog whistle, a call to arms so to speak, lie after lie, just to inflame violence in this country. This is a big fear right now in the US, less than an hour after Donald Trump delivered this speech in the White House," said DW's Washington bureau chief Ines Pohl.
After traveling across the US in the weeks leading up to the election, Pohl said that Trump enjoys such widespread support based on his reputation as a successful businessman.
"We talked to many people. It was sometimes stunning how some African Americans in Los Angeles told us that Donald Trump is the only person who is able to bring the US back on track after the pandemic. So many see him still as a strong businessman," said Pohl.
00:45 DW's Washington correspondent Oliver Sallet said that Trump's unproven claim that mail-in ballots would suddenly show up after election day is directed to his followers:
"His follower base is not following the factual-based news. They are also getting their information from conspiracy theories like QAnon, so his claims resonate [with his followers]."
Sallet added that Trump is seeking to create his post-office narrative, if he loses the election.
"And that is, it's him, the underdog, against the establishment, that this election was stolen. Of course, this is all baseless, and we've heard that confirmed by international election observers," Sallet said.
00:34 Rumors about how the results are being tabulated and possible instances of wrongdoing are making the rounds. DW's Fact Check team cuts through the noise, read more here.
00:20 Three major US broadcast networks, NBC, CBS and ABC, all cut away in the middle of Donald Trump's White House press conference, as the president made several spurious remarks alleging widespread election fraud.
"We have to interrupt here, because the president has made a number of false statements, including the notion that there has been fraudulent voting,'' said NBC anchor Lester Holt. "There has been no evidence of that.''
CBS anchor Norah O'Donnell cut in shortly after Trump began speaking about "legal votes" that would "easily" win him the election. CBS's fact checkers said there was no evidence of illegal votes being cast.
23:50 President Donald Trump delivered remarks Thursday evening at the White House briefing room, claiming "if you count the legal votes I easily win."
"If you count the illegal votes they are trying to steal the election from us."
Trump said there is "tremendous litigation" going on, alleging that mail-in ballots are subject to "fraud."
"We think we will win the election very easily, and there is going to be a lot of litigation, and it could end up in the highest court in the land, we'll see."
Trump added that Democrats "never believed" they could win the election, and accused them of pushing mail-in ballots to commit electoral fraud. Trump did not provide any evidence, and there have been no instances of ballot fraud independently reported.
Trump claimed ballot counting in states like Pennsylvania is part of a "corrupt Democratic machine" and said the "voting apparatus" in the few states left to be decided is "controlled by Democrats."
The hotly contested state of Georgia, where Biden is rapidly closing the gap on Trump's lead, is run by a Republican governor, as is Arizona, where the last ballots are still being counted. Republican observers have been allowed in ballot counting rooms, and in Pennsylvania, the Trump campaign won a legal motion to allow observers to stand closer to ballot counters.
22:50 Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar told reporters Thursday evening that the ongoing ballot count in the critical battleground state was "very secure" and the "integrity of this vote is unparalleled."
Boockvar said that the "overwhelming majority" of the over 300,000 remaining ballots will be counted by Friday.
The Trump campaign has taken legal action in Pennsylvania to try and stop the counting of mail-in ballots postmarked by election day, but which are allowed to be counted up to three days later. Boockvar said late arrival ballots are "significantly lower" than expected, adding she has seen no evidence of voter fraud.
Joe Biden is steadily narrowing Trump's lead in Pennsylvania, with fewer than 110,000 votes separating the two candidates. A victory for Biden taking the state's 20 electoral votes would win him the presidency.
22:25 Joe Biden gave a brief speech at his campaign headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware Thursday afternoon and said he has "no doubt" that he will win the election.
Biden also urged patience in waiting for vote counts to be completed, adding that democracy can sometimes be "messy," but "each ballot must be counted."
21:00 A federal judge in Washington, DC, has ordered the US Postal Service to perform twice daily inspections of its processing centers, to check for mail-in votes postmarked on election day, but which may have arrived afterward.
The USPS processing centers have been urged to expedite any ballots found for delivery to election officials. Thursday's order is set to remain in place until the end of each states' deadline for accepting ballots.
20:30 The 2020 US election campaign cost some $14 billion (€12 billion), a record sum that was spent in both the presidential and the legislative contests.
It was nearly double the amount spent in the 2016 election and more than triple the sum spent of the 2000 election, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a non-partisan research group that studies the role of money in politics.
There was unprecedented spending in the presidential contest, which is expected to see $6.6 billion in total spending, up from around $2.4 billion in the 2016 race.
20:00 Joe Biden has a very slim edge in most of the states that are still counting ballots, here is the state of the race:
Arizona (11 electoral votes): Biden currently leads by 2.4%, or more than 68,000 votes. Some 86% of the votes have already been counted. A bulk of the ballots that remain to be counted are in densely populated Maricopa County, which includes the city of Phoenix.
Georgia (16 electoral votes): Trump is leading by a razor-thin margin of 0.3% or about 13,000 votes. Some 98% of votes have been tallied and a complete vote count is expected by Thursday evening local time.
Nevada (6 electoral votes): Biden is leading with 1%, or around 11,000 votes. Some 89% of the total votes have been counted. Joe Gloria, the registrar of Clark County, the largest in the state, said at least 63,262 ballots were left to count but that some mail-in ballots postmarked by Election Day are still arriving. A total count is not expected until Saturday.
Pennsylvania (20 electoral votes): Trump leads by 1.5%, or 108,772 votes. Some 92% of ballots have so far been counted. The Biden campaign has said that it is confident it can win the battleground state. A result is expected by Friday, but officials in the state say they could be ready by as early as Thursday night local time.
North Carolina (15 electoral votes): Trump leads with 1.4%, or more than 76,000 votes. Some 95% of the ballots have been counted. Officials there have not said when the total vote count could be delivered.
19:00 A Michigan judge has rejected a lawsuit brought by President Donald Trump's campaign that sought to halt vote-counting in the state. Democratic challenger Joe Biden has been projected to win Michigan, a state that Trump won in 2016.
Michigan Court of Claims Judge Cynthia Stephens said she had "no basis to find that there is a substantial likelihood of success on the merits."
A judge in Georgia also dismissed a legal challenge by the Trump campaign concerning some 53 absentee ballots in Chatham County, which leans Democratic. The judge threw out the suit after county election officials testified that all of those ballots had been received on time.
The Trump campaign announced that it would launch additional legal action in Pennsylvania and Nevada. Campaign manager Bill Stepien told reporters on a conference call that Trump was "alive and well" with regard to the presidential race.
The campaign predicted that the Republican incumbent would win the US election by as early as Friday evening.
Catch up on earlier developments here
wmr, jcg/rt (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)