Donald Trump has made a series of unsubstantiated allegations to claim he is being cheated out of re-election as he tried to, falsely, claim victory for the second time since election night. 

The Republican incumbent alleged he was the victim of interference from "phony polls" as well as "big media, big money and big tech" after launching battles to stay in office.

In an extraordinary White House press conference late on Thursday, the president said: "If you count the legal votes I easily won. If you count the illegal votes, they can try to steal the election from us."

The presidential election remains too close to call after polls closed on Tuesday, but former vice-president Mr Biden remains the favourite after winning three key battleground states.

Pennsylvania was expecting to announce its result by the end of the day. If it goes to Mr Biden, so would the White House.

Still, in his first address to the nation since election night, Mr Trump tried to reassert false claims about the validity of postal votes.

And, despite repeated accusations, he offered no evidence of election fraud during his press conference.

He told the White House briefing that 2020 had been "the year of the republican woman", saying that more female members of the party had been elected to the US Congress than "ever before".

He added he had won the largest share of non-white voters in 60 years including "historic" numbers of Latino-American, African-American, Asian-American and native Americans.
"We grew our party by four million voters, the greatest turnout in Republican party history", he said.

"Republicans have become the party of the American worker and that's what's happened, and we're also the party of inclusion."

Mr Trump said that media polling was "election interference in the truest sense of that word".

"These really phoney polls, I have to call them phoney polls, fake polls, were designed to keep voters at home and create the illusion of momentum for Mr Biden."

Mr Trump claimed the Republicans were "winning in all the key locations" but then their lead had been "whittled away in secret".

Referring to legally permissible observers, the US President claimed that when observers arrived, they were told to be "100 feet away" from the count.

"When the observers got there, they wanted them 60, 70 feet away, 80 feet, 100 feet away, or outside the building, to observe people inside the building", he told reporters.

Read more: Alison Rowat: America the beautiful faces future filled with ugly doubt

On the postal vote system, Mr Trump added: "I've been talking about mail-in voting for a long time. It's really destroyed our system, it's a corrupt system."

Mr Trump claimed the "blue wave" predicted by the polls had never materialised and there had been a "big red wave instead".

He added: "The pollsters got it knowingly wrong.

"There was no blue wave that they predicted, they thought there was going to be a big blue wave - that was false, it was done for suppression reasons.

"But instead there was a big red wave and it has been properly acknowledged by the media, they were, I think, very impressed but that's after the fact."

HeraldScotland:

Mr Trump challenged Joe Biden and the Democrats to "clarify that they only want legal votes".

"They talk about votes, I think they should call them legal votes, they want every legal vote counted and I want every legal vote counted," he said.

Mr Trump claimed that Democrat officials had never believed they could win the election "honestly".

He added: "That's why they did the mail-in ballots where there's tremendous corruption and fraud going on.

"That's why they mailed out tens of millions of unsolicited ballots without any verification measures whatsoever.

"I told everybody that these things would happen because I have seen it happen, I watched a lot of of different elections before they decided to go with this big massive election with tens of millions of ballots going out to everybody, in many cases totally unsolicited."

Mr Trump said his party thought they would win the election "very easily" but that there would be "a lot of litigation" involved.

"We have so much evidence, so much proof and it's going to end up, perhaps, at the highest court in the land", he said.

"We think there will be a lot of litigation because we can't have an election stolen like this."

Mike Pence, who did not stand by the president at his press conference, later endorsed the president's false statements.

“I Stand With President @realDonaldTrump,” Pence tweeted shortly after the president concluded his remarks. “We must count every LEGAL vote.”

US TV news networks, including ABC, CBS and MSNBC, stopped broadcasting the president’s remarks.

As MSNBC cut away from the White House, shortly after the president falsely declared victory for the second time, anchor Brian Williams commented, “Here we are again in the unusual position of not only interrupting the president of the United States but correcting the president of the United States.”

Read more: Comment: At least we know who has lost: the American people

Some high-profile Republicans have distanced themselves from Donald Trump's attempts to falsely declare victory and halt vote counting in Pennsylvania and other states.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Trump ally who won re-election on Tuesday in Kentucky, told reporters that "claiming you've won the election is different from finishing the counting".

Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican who spoke at a recent Trump campaign rally, said in a tweet that "taking days to count legally cast votes is NOT fraud".

And Senator Lisa Murkowski, from Alaska, urged "everyone to be patient" as results come in.

"It is critical that we give election officials time to complete their jobs, and that we ensure all lawfully cast ballots are allowed and counted," she said in a statement.

Republican Adam Kinzinger addressed Mr Trump directly on Twitter: "Stop. Full stop," he wrote on Wednesday in response to Mr Trump's claim that Democrats were trying to "steal" the election.

"The votes will be counted and you will either win or lose," Mr Kinzinger told Mr Trump. "And America will accept that. Patience is a virtue."

The comments by the Republican lawmakers were rare, public rebukes of Mr Trump, who has demanded - and generally received - loyalty from fellow Republicans throughout his four-year term.

Most take pains to avoid directly criticising Mr Trump, even when they find his conduct unhelpful or offensive to their values and goals.

Mr Trump's tweets declaring victory and calling for officials to "STOP THE COUNT" were an early test of how strongly he can keep Republicans in line as he tries to challenge the voting process in court.