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CNN  — 

Following an Axios piece that reported he might try to declare victory on Tuesday night if he is ahead in key states – but before those states are actually called – President Donald Trump insisted that it was a “false report” before offering an answer that, well, seemed to directly dispute his denial.

Here’s Trump’s full – and decidedly rambling – response (bolding is mine):

“I think it’s a terrible thing when ballots can be collected after an election. I think it’s a terrible thing when people or states are allowed to tabulate ballots for a long period of time after the election is over because it can only lead to one thing, and that’s very bad. You know what that thing is. I think it’s a very dangerous, terrible thing. And I think it’s terrible when we can’t know the results of an election the night of the election in a modern-day age of computers. I think it’s a terrible thing.

“And I happen to think it was a terrible decision for our country made by the Supreme Court. I think it was a terrible decision for our country. And I think it’s a very dangerous decision because you’re going to have one or two or three states, depending on how it ends up, where they’re tabulating ballots, and the rest of the world is waiting to find out. And I think there’s great danger to it, and I think a lot of fraud and misuse could take place. I think it’s a terrible decision by the Supreme Court – a terrible decision.

“Now, I don’t know if that’s going to be changed, because we’re going to go in the night of – as soon as that election is over, we’re going in with our lawyers. But we don’t want to have Pennsylvania, where you have a political governor – a very partisan guy – and we don’t want to have other states – like Nevada, where you have the head of the Democratic clubhouse as your governor. We don’t want to be in a position where he’s allowed to, every day, watch ballots come in. ‘Gee, if we could only find 10,000 more ballots.’

“Because we’re doing great in Nevada. We’re doing great in Arizona. We’re doing great all over. But if you take Nevada or Pennsylvania – and everyone knows what happens in Philadelphia. You don’t have to say it. But I’ve read about it for years. And I don’t think it’s fair that we have to wait a long period of time after the election.

“If people wanted to get their ballots in, they should have gotten their ballots in long before that – a long time. They don’t have to put their ballots in the same day; they could have put their ballots in a month ago. And we think it’s a ridiculous decision.”

(Trump is referencing recent rulings by the Supreme Court that will allow election officials in North Carolina and Pennsylvania to count absentee ballots received several days after Tuesday.)

It’s not entirely clear what Trump is talking about here – particularly when he pledged to “go in the night of – as soon as that election is over, we’re going in with our lawyers.” Presumably that means a cadre of Trump’s attorneys will descend on, say, Pennsylvania and attempt to shut down any further counting of votes beyond Tuesday night. Of course, that is a) completely undemocratic and b) very unlikely to succeed given the Supreme Court ruling that allows absentee ballots received for several days after Election Day to be counted.

The only way that I can see that such a legal move might work is if Trump and his lawyers find actual evidence of widespread voter fraud – like, in Trump’s imagination, a Democratic governor in a swing state trying to add “10,000 more ballots” to the count. The problem with that scenario is that there is simply no evidence of any sort of ballot fraud – whether with in-person or absentee votes – on record. Just none.

So, in light of that, what is Trump up to here? Intimidation, pure and simple. He is trying to work the refs in advance of the big game. He is trying to put the squeeze on election officials while also moving public perception about how long votes should be counted. (To be clear: There is a long history of mail-in votes and military ballots being counted even if they are not received by Election Day.)

It’s the same thing the President’s senior campaign adviser Jason Miller was trying to do Sunday when he said this: “If you speak with many smart Democrats, they believe President Trump will be ahead on election night, probably getting 280 electorals, somewhere in that range, and then they’re going to try to steal it back after the election.”

Nope! Votes counted after Election Day, as long as they have been cast within the legal parameters of their state, are just as above-board as votes cast early or votes cast on Election Day.

Miller and Trump, of course, know this. What they are banking on is that the President’s most loyal supporters believing that what he is saying is true – facts be damned. That any votes counted post-Tuesday are somehow fraudulent or evidence of Trump’s ongoing claims of non-existent fraud.

Is it true? Absolutely not. Is it dangerous? Oh, big time.