• Prominent Republicans condemnded Trump's anti-democratic statement on Wednesday morning.
  • Trump falsely claimed that he had already won the election. No winner has been declared and counting is ongoing.
  • He also announced his intention to go to the Supreme Court in an attempt to stop further election counting.
  • Former Republican Senator Rick Santorum and ex-Republican governor Chris Christie criticised the statement.
  • Rick Santorum told ABC: "I was very distressed by what I heard the president say."
  • Republican election lawyer Benjamin Ginsberg told CNN: "It's a distressing moment for me as a long-time Republican."
  • Fox News Host Chris Wallace said: This is an extremely flammable situation and the president just threw a match into it."
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Prominent Republicans and conservative commentators have joined the condemnation of President Trump's false claim that he has already won the election.

Trump in the early hours of Wednesday morning told a White House press conference that "frankly, we did win this election."

However, no winner has been declared and millions of votes are yet to be counted.

Trump described the fact that not all votes have been counted on Election Night, as has happened in previous elections, a "major fraud on our nation" and repeated without evidence his claim that in-mail voting had led to voter fraud.

It follows a report last week by Axios suggesting that Trump planned to declare victory on election night if it appeared that he was "ahead" in early results.

Numerous prominent Republican figures lined up to condemn Trump.

Former Republican Senator Rick Santorum said: "I was very distressed by what I heard the president say."

He told CNN: "The president is prone as we know to bluster and fits of pique and being upset about how he's being treated. I don't have any problem... I think Joe Biden said similar things, 'I think I won,' and that's fine. You think you won, that's great.

"But the idea of using the word fraud, and fraud is being committed by people counting votes is wrong."

He said: "I understand the president's frustration because some of the states weren't called as early as he'd like but at the same time he complained about one of those states being called, Arizona. I understand that the president feels like it's a grievance against him and somehow or another this is another example of the media not treating him fairly and I'll just say that I could not disagree more in this case."

He was echoed by the former Republican governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, who told ABC News that speaking "not as a former governor but a former US attorney" there was "just no basis to make that argument tonight."

He said: "All these votes have to be counted that are in now. In Pennsylvania, the counting won't even start until tomorrow or Thursday or Friday because the Pennsylvania Supreme Court extended for three days when you an accept ballots. I understand that there could be an argument on that based on Pennsylvania law, but that argument is for later. Tonight was not the time to make this argument."

Asked whether Trump's false claim was a political move, Christie said: "It is, but it's got to be bigger than that.

"I disagree with what he did tonight and Sarah's right: there comes a point where you have to let the process play itself out before you judge it to have been flawed. I think that by prematurely doing this, if there is a flaw in it later, he has undercut his own credibility calling attention to that flaw.

"I think it's a bad strategic decision, it's a bad political decision, and it's not the kind of decision you'd expect someone to make tonight who holds the position he holds."

Republican election lawyer Benjamin Ginsberg told CNN that "for a president to say we're going to disenfranchise legally-cast ballots is really extraordinary" adding that "it's a distressing moment for me as a long-time Republican."

Fox News host Chris Wallace said Trump's plan to go to the Supreme Court, the basis of which is unclear,  was "extremely inflammatory and frankly I don't think it's something that the courts would allow."

He said: "This is an extremely flammable situation and the president just threw a match into it.

"He hasn't won these states. Nobody is saying he has won these states. The states haven't said that he's won.

"This goes right back to what Joe Biden said which is the president doesn't get to say that he's won states — the American people get to say it, the state officials get to declare it."

Right-wing commentator Ben Shapiro tweeted that Trump's false claim that he already won the election was "deeply irresponsible."

The contest was too close to call at the time of writing, with Joe Biden on 227 Electoral College votes and Trump on 213. The outcome is set to hinge on results in key battleground states Michigan, Pennslyvania, and Wisconsin.

Joe Biden's campaign manager Jen O'Malley Dillon on Wednesday morning described the president's statement as "outrageous, unprecedented, and incorrect" and a "naked effort to take away the democratic rights of American citizens."

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