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Prominent Republicans condemning President Trump’s false victory claim

The president had won the battleground state of Florida Tuesday night, and CBS News projected victory for Trump in Ohio.
President Donald Trump speaks in the East Room of the White House, early Wednesday, Nov. 4,...
President Donald Trump speaks in the East Room of the White House, early Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020, in Washington.(Evan Vucci | AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Published: Nov. 4, 2020 at 5:20 PM CST
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(CBS News) -- A number of prominent Republicans are condemning President Trump after he falsely claimed victory in a late-night press conference with millions of votes still to be counted.

Former Trump national security adviser John Bolton called the president’s remarks a “disgrace” in an early Wednesday interview with the U.K.'s Sky News. He joins a growing list of Republicans — including former Ohio Governor John Kasich and former New Jersey governor Chris Christie — who have also criticized Mr. Trump’s comments.

“He has cast doubt on the integrity of the entire electoral process clearly for his own personal advantage,” Bolton told Sky News.

Christie, who was recently released from the hospital after contracting the coronavirus, reacted to Mr. Trump’s remarks while joining ABC News' live coverage of the election.

“This was not the time to make this argument,” Christie said. “I think by prematurely doing this, if there is a flaw in it later, he has undercut his own credibility in calling attention to that flaw.”

He called the remarks a “bad political decision,” and said it was “not the kind of decision you would expect someone to make tonight who holds the position he holds.”

The president had won the battleground state of Florida Tuesday night, and CBS News projected victory for Mr. Trump in Ohio.

He spoke from the White House in the 2 a.m. hour Wednesday, amid the initial favorable projections, calling for ballot counting to “stop.”

“We don’t want them to find any ballots at 4 o’clock in the morning and add them to the list,” he said.

Mr. Trump threatened to challenge the results before the Supreme Court if the legal vote count continued.

Kasich and fellow Republican Rick Santorum both condemned the remarks.

“The more I’m thinking about it, I’m steaming,” Kasich said on CNN Wednesday. “To cast dispersions on legitimate votes by legitimate voters — the American electorate — is ridiculous.”

Santorum said he was “very distressed” by what Mr. Trump had to say, defending election workers counting late-night ballots.

“People get tired, they make mistakes, and they stop counting…They are not stopping counting because they are trying to fix anything or create any sort of fraud,” he said.

Fox News anchor Chris Wallace likened the president’s remarks to throwing a “match” on an “extremely flammable situation” during the network’s election coverage.

Former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign swiftly condemned the false victory claim, calling it a “naked effort to take away the democratic rights of American citizens.”

Mr. Trump repeated his previous claims of mail-in voting fraud on Wednesday morning.

In a series of unsubstantiated posts that were later flagged by Twitter, the president blamed “surprise ballot dumps” for making his narrow lead “magically disappear.”

“How come every time they count Mail-In ballot dumps they are so devastating in their percentage and power of destruction?” the president wrote.

States have varying guidelines on when they can begin counting mail-in ballots versus Election Day ballots. Historic early voting numbers have also contributed to delayed results in some states.

Officials in Pennsylvania have repeatedly cautioned that the state’s results could take days to be fully counted. Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said Wednesday the state is still counting “tens of thousands” of ballots and expects to have an unofficial tally by the end of the day.

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