US Election: Donald Trump's false 'victory' speech slammed as 'pure authoritarianism', 'tinpot dictator stuff'

Donald Trump's speech on the night of the US election, in which he falsely claimed victory, has been condemned as being more appropriate for a dictator than a US President.

With counting still going on in a number of battleground states key to victory, Trump wrongly claimed he'd already defeated Joe Biden - and went on to say counting every vote, such as those sent by mail, would be a "fraud on the American public". 

"This is an embarrassment to our country. We were getting ready to win this election. Frankly, we did win this election. We did win this election. So our goal now is to ensure the integrity for the good of this nation...

"We want all voting to stop. We don't want them to find any ballots at four o'clock in the morning and add them to the list. Okay? It's a very sad moment. To me this is a very sad moment and we will win this. And as far as I'm concerned, we already have won it."

Stephen Collinson, CNN White House reporter called it "his most extreme and dangerous assault on the institutions of democracy yet in a presidency replete with them".

"Trump's remarks essentially amounted to a demand for the legally cast votes of American citizens not to be recorded in a historic act of disenfranchisement. And they brought closer the potential constitutional nightmare that many have feared since Trump started to tarnish an election that he apparently worried he could lose months ago."

Collinson fears if Trump wins - cleanly or not - he'll see it "as a validation of his norm-crushing behaviour".

"It was outrageous because it is a naked effort to take away the democratic rights of American citizens," added Biden campaign manager Jen O'Malley Dillon. 

Chris Christie, former New Jersey governor and Trump ally, said the President's premature claims "undercut his own credibility."

"There's just no basis to make that argument tonight. There just isn't. All these votes have to be counted that are in now," he told ABC News.

"Almost everything President Trump said in his declaration of victory was not true," said CNN anchor Jake Tapper, right after the speech was broadcast. 

Joe Biden and Donald Trump.
Joe Biden and Donald Trump. Photo credit: Getty

Even hosts on usually Trump-friendly Fox News were shocked.

"This is an extremely flammable situation and the President just threw a match on it," said anchor Chris Wallace, noting Trump hadn't yet been declared the winner in a number of states he claimed he had.

ABC News senior correspondent Terry Moran said it was "the theatre of authoritarianism".

NBC News actually cut into the President's speech while he was still giving it .

"We've got to dip in here because there have been several statements that are just frankly not true," host Savannah Guthrie told viewers. "We are reluctant to step in, but duty bound to point out when he says we did win this election, we've already won, that's not based on the facts at all." 

"Trump's statement was squalid," wrote The New Yorker's Amy Davidson Sorkin

"If the country is lucky, it is just a last indignity before he is defeated. But, in those few minutes, he caused America's troubles to multiply."

New York Times White House correspondent Maggie Haberman had kinder words for Vice President Mike Pence, who was less bullish than his boss - saying "while the votes continue to be counted, we're going to remain vigilant... we are on the road to victory", without falsely claiming the win.

"Pence gave a version of the speech Biden gave," wrote Habertman. "Trump did something that is fundamentally against how elections are processed in the US."

"Trump's announced 'victory' is pure authoritarianism at its worst," said John Dean, White House counsel under President Richard Nixon, saying the US would be in "big trouble" if "Donald-the-dictator" managed to hold onto power. 

A Toronto newspaper lambasted the speech as "tinpot dictator stuff", while Radiohead singer and climate activist Thom Yorke used similar language, calling him a "flag-waving facebook tin pot dictator... utterly bereft of moral authority".

Even Kiwi pundits were shocked by what they heard.

"I thought that the CNN coverage was way too aggressive with the snarky chryons and all that then I watched the video of the Trump speech," conservative political commentator and RNZ regular Liam Hehir wrote on Twitter. "It was insane."

"It wasn't easy but I found a true bit in Trump's speech," tweeted The Spinoff editor Toby Manhire, highlighting a line from Trump's speech where he said: "This is an embarrassment to our country." 

Trump's opponent Biden kept his response simple.

"It's not my place or Donald Trump's place to declare the winner of this election," he tweeted. "It's the voters' place."

The results of the election might not be known for days or weeks. It's looking likely to be the largest turnout in US election history, and some states are legally prevented from counting early votes before election day.

"Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin election officials were not allowed to begin processing absentee ballots until on or just before Election Day, after Republican-led state legislatures opposed changing laws to allow earlier preparations like other states," tweeted CNN political analyst Kirsten Powers.