On Saturday, Axios reported that outgoing President Donald Trump's efforts to steal the election were "premeditated" before any of the ballots were reported — and that he planned ahead of time to declare premature victory if it looked like he was ahead in enough states.
"As Trump prepared for Election Day, he was focused on the so-called red mirage. This was the idea that early vote counts would look better for Republicans than the final tallies because Democrats feared COVID-19 more and would disproportionately cast absentee votes that would take longer to count," reported Jonathan Swan and Zachary Basu. "Trump intended to exploit this — to weaponize it for his vast base of followers."
Ultimately, his bizarre dead-morning speech proclaiming himself the winner was something rehearsed and practiced beforehand.
"His former chief of staff Reince Priebus told a friend he was stunned when Trump called him around that time and acted out his script, including walking up to a podium and prematurely declaring victory on election night if it looked like he was ahead," said the report. "White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller's speechwriting team had prepared three skeleton speeches for election night for all the possible scenarios: a clear victory, a clear loss, and an indeterminate result. But the speechwriters knew that if Trump was facing anything other than a resounding victory, the words would be his alone. This president would never admit defeat or urge patience."
"His preparations were deliberate, strategic and deeply cynical. Trump wanted Americans to believe a falsehood that there were two elections — a legitimate election composed of in-person voting, and a separate, fraudulent election involving bogus mail-in ballots for Democrats," said the report. "In the initial hours after returns closed, it looked like his plan could work. Trump was on track for easy wins in Florida and Ohio, and held huge — though deceptive — early leads in Pennsylvania and Michigan."
Ultimately, the big monkey wrench in this plan was Arizona, where Biden took an early lead and where Fox News projected him the winner. Previous reports revealed Trump called News Corp. owner Rupert Murdoch and yelled at him to get his Fox anchors to reverse the call.