Donald Trump has doubled down on his allegations of voter fraud in a bitter Twitter tirade, reiterating his belief that Democratic successor Joe Biden "stole" last week's landmark election.
The outgoing President barraged the social media platform with a series of resentful tweets on Sunday morning (local time), the morning after Biden cemented his victory as President-elect with a stirring speech promising widespread reform and an immediate response to the United States' ongoing coronavirus epidemic.
On Saturday (local time), television networks called Biden the President-elect after days of painstaking ballot-counting across several battleground states. The 77-year-old surpassed the 270 Electoral College votes required to clinch the presidency after flipping the crucial swing state of Pennsylvania, securing its 20 electoral votes by a razor-thin margin.
Yet Trump, 74, has refused to concede, making it clear the reins of power will not be transferred without a fight. The Republican's campaign has declared its intention to pursue ballot recounts, filing a number of last-ditch lawsuits in several states in an apparent bid to delay vote counting and shroud the election in a cloud of uncertainty.
The campaign announced it will take legal action in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Nevada - battleground states secured by Biden - and in the Republican stronghold of Georgia, a state yet to be called. The latest data shows Biden leading by a knife-edge - a narrow margin of just 0.21 percent. The states of North Carolina and Alaska have yet to be called.
On Saturday, it was revealed the Trump campaign had also taken legal action in Arizona regarding rejected ballots. As reported by Reuters, a state official rejected the lawsuit, dubbing it "a stalling tactic". In a statement, Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs said "they are grasping at straws".
The President and his campaign have attempted to justify legal action with unsubstantiated allegations of inadequate access to poll counting, invalid votes being tabulated and the tallying of late-arriving ballots. After a period of relative social media silence, Trump kicked off his latest effort to cast doubt over the Democratic victory by declaring: "We should look at the votes. We're just beginning the tabulation stage. We should look at these allegations."
"We're seeing a number of affidavits that there has been voter fraud," he claimed. "We have a history in this country of election problems. In Pennsylvania you had an order by a Supreme Court Justice to compel them to separate ballots that were received after the legislative deadline. It required the intervention of Justice Alito. That's a large group of ballots.
"When you talk about systemic problems, it's about how these ballots were authenticated, because if there's a problem in the system about authentication, that would seriously affect the ENTIRE ELECTION - And what concerns me is that we had over a hundred million mail-in ballot in cities like Philadelphia and Detroit with a long series of election problems (to put it mildly).
"We believe these people are thieves. The big city machines are corrupt. This was a stolen election."
The President continued his attempts to smear his successor, claiming it unfathomable that Biden had eclipsed former President Barack Obama's popular vote record. In 2008, Obama earned 69,498,516 votes in the presidential election - a history-making moment. The latest data shows Biden, Obama's former Vice President, has now surpassed that tally with 75,219,773 votes (50.7 percent of the total) - and counting. Trump is currently sitting on 70,817,945.
"Best pollster in Britain wrote this morning that this clearly was a stolen election, that it's impossible to imagine that Biden outran Obama in some of these states," Trump tweeted.
"Where it mattered, they stole what they had to steal."
According to local media, lawsuits either filed or declared in Michigan, Georgia and Nevada have been rejected due to a lack of evidence to corroborate the claims.
After a short period of inactivity, Trump later tweeted: "Since when does the Lamestream Media call who our next president will be? We have all learned a lot in the last two weeks!"
The landmark election will see Biden's running mate, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, make history as the first woman and first woman of colour on a winning presidential ticket. The California Senator will also become the first woman, the first Black American and the first person of South Asian descent to hold vice presidency.
Taking the stage in Wilmington, his city of residence, on Saturday night (local time), Biden vowed to take immediate action against America's ongoing battle with COVID-19, rebuild the country's economy, eliminate systemic racial injustice and fight climate change, while Harris encouraged women, particularly women of colour, to continue breaking barriers in a country still heavily divided along racial lines.
Biden will be officially sworn in as President at his inauguration on January 20, 2021.