Donald Trump is claimed to have plotted to declare himself the winner even before the US election is called.
Such a move would ensure the dirtiest fight for the White House in American history putting the country on a footing to civil unrest.
According to reports, the President is preparing to falsely claim that postal ballots counted after today’s election are evidence of election fraud.
Trump is said to have planned several weeks ago to walk up to a podium on election night and declare he has won.
The move would set up widespread chaos fuelling unrest by his supporters if it is later seen Democratic rival Joe Biden had actually won.
Trump denied the reports but threatened to deploy his team of lawyers to challenge the results.
“We’re going to go in the night of, as soon as that election’s over, we’re going in with our lawyers,” he said.
“I think it’s a terrible thing when ballots can be collected after an election.
“I think it’s a terrible thing when states are allowed to tabulate ballots for a long period of time after the election is over.”
He added: “I think it’s terrible that we can’t know the results of an election the night of the election.”
Trump has openly attacked Supreme Court rulings which allow states such as Pennsylvania and North Carolina to count ballots that are postmarked before Election Day but arrive shortly after Tuesday.
Trump called it a “very dangerous decision for our country”.
He added: “You’re going to have one or two or three states, depending on how it ends up, where they’re tabulating ballots, and the rest of the world is waiting to find out. And I think there’s great danger to it, and I think a lot of fraud and misuse can take place.”
Yesterday on the final day of the campaign, Trump continued to ramp up the uncertainty of possible unrest as he celebrated his supporters for using pickup trucks to ambush a Biden campaign bus.
He disputed a report the FBI is investigating his supporters accused of harassing the bus as it drove through Texas despite a public statement by the bureau. In a statement, the FBI said: “FBI San Antonio is aware of the incident and investigating.”
“This story is FALSE,” Trump tweeted.
In his tweet, Trump continued to voice support for the motorists.
“They did nothing wrong,” he wrote before blaming left-wing groups.
“But the ANTIFA anarchists, rioters and looters, who have caused so much harm and destruction in Democrat-run cities, are being seriously looked at.”
Trump also said he would like to fight Biden and mocked the former Vice-President’s appearance.
Biden is “a weak person, you know,” Trump told the audience. “He challenged me. A year-and-a-half ago… ‘Huh, I’d like to take him behind a barn’. And I said, you know – I said, ‘Of all the people in the world that I could fight, that’s probably the one I’d like to most fight.’”
Trump said Biden’s legs are “very thin”, adding: “You wouldn’t have to close the fist.”
He also continued to play down the pandemic, ridiculed a Fox News host for wearing a mask at one of his rallies and falsely said doctors were fabricating coronavirus deaths for money,
Covid has claimed the lives of more than 231,000 Americans while infecting a further 9.3 million under his leadership.
Despite record numbers of new sufferers, the President has continued to play down the virus telling voters the country is “turning the corner”.
In the early hours of yesterday while at a raucous rally in Florida, he also attacked America’s leading disease expert, Dr Anthony Fauci.
As Trump addressed hundreds of his maskless supporters, they began chanting “Fire Fauci”.
It came after the doctor’s repeated criticism of the administration’s downplaying of the deadly recent surge.
“Don’t tell anybody, but let me wait until a little bit after the election,” Trump said as the audience in Opa-locka, Florida, erupted.
“I appreciate the advice.”
With a US election never meaning so much to the UK, thousands of Brits are expected to watch the results unfold during the night.
Various channels will be broadcasting live coverage tonight, with Andrew Neil chairing BBC One’s programme, and Tom Bradby and Julie Etchingham hosting for ITV.
Both will begin at 11pm, going through until 6am.
Dermot Murnaghan will anchor Sky News’s America Decides, joined by Omarosa Manigault Newman, a former aide to Donald Trump.
Sir Kim Darroch, the former British Ambassador to the US, will also be on the 10pm-7am broadcast.
Because of the huge numbers of pre-election day votes cast both in person and by post, indications could be seen as early as midnight, when Florida returns its early numbers.
A huge win for Joe Biden in the Sunshine State would make Trump’s chance of re-election slim.
But if there is no clear winner on election night, a result may not be announced for days or even weeks.
Donald Trump is thought to be planning to question the election process if he loses, and there may even be a recount – as seen in the 2000 Bush versus Gore election.
Both candidates spent their final hours on the campaign trail hoping to attract those who remain undecided.
Trump held five rallies across battleground states. At the same time, Biden focused on Pennsylvania in a bid to block the President from repeating his victory there four years ago.
Yesterday Biden led Trump by 10 percentage points nationally – 53% to 43%, according to an average of national polls.
Biden’s lead in the battleground states of Michigan and Wisconsin is nine points, six in Pennsylvania, five in North Carolina, four in Arizona and two in Florida.
However, in Iowa one poll suggested Trump had surged ahead in recent days with White House communication director Alyssa Farah predicting the “silent majority” will prove polls wrong again and give the President four more years in office.
Businesses throughout the US continued to take precautions over fears the result could spark large scale civil unrest.
Stores from east to west coast continued to be boarded up.
The move comes as law enforcement and other agencies are preparing for possible protests surrounding the election.
At the White House, a “non-scalable” fence was said to be planned around the perimeter.
Voters have cast more than 94 million ballots ahead of today, according to the US Elections Project.
It represents more than 68% of the total votes counted in 2016.
It includes more than 34 million in-person votes, as well as nearly 60 million returned postal ballots.
Uncertainty today remains over when the result will be called.
Usually by 4am UK time a winner is accurately predicted, but due to expected disputes, the official result may not be known for days, possibly weeks.
Yesterday one punter staked £1million on Biden to win at odds of 8/15.
If Biden is successful the bet would return £1,540,000 – the biggest bet of the election on Betfair Exchange.
Over the weekend, £14million was placed on Biden while £8 million was staked on the President.
Betfair spokesperson Sam Rosbottom said: “The 2016 US election’s record for being the biggest single betting event of all time was broken by this year’s contest last week and the £271 million bet on the 2020 election means it remains on-course to hit £400 million.”
Professional political gambler and Betfair election expert Paul Krishnamurty said: “The big money is coming for Biden because people get more confident at the end of an election about the state of the market and the big hitters enter.
“A total of £400million bet is well within range and that represents a 12-fold increase in two election cycles and that has to be the Trump effect, he’s changed the game.”