‘Robbed’: Trump’s secret strategy to fight for re-election
It seemed so shocking, a sitting president attacking the entire American electoral process with a series of unsubstantiated claims over 17 long minutes from a White House lectern.
And yet, it wasn't really surprising at all.
Donald Trump has been laying the groundwork for an "I was robbed" defence of this election for months, if not years.
On the campaign trail, he continually said mail-in voting was subject to fraud.
His strategy now is to talk about the massive leads he held in states like Georgia, Michigan and Pennsylvania, that he claims were "magically whittled away" by mail-in votes - and to convince Americans that those votes are bogus.
He is furious that Fox News continues to be an outlier having declared Arizona for Biden on election night, when few thought there was reason to do so.
Arizona remained in play 48 hours later.
US elections are about perception as much as policy and the playbook for how to challenge a verdict was set back in 2000.
Democrat candidate Al Gore misstepped by conceding early to Republican George W Bush, before the race tightened so much he contested the verdict.
America was paralysed for 37 days as legal challenges reached the Supreme Court and a Florida recount finally gave the Republican the White House.
Gore lost the election but he also lost the PR war, never really regaining the momentum he had handed over so early on election night.
That's why both Trump and Biden both announced they were winners in the hours after the polls closed.
Trump likely won't leave willingly. If Joe Biden is declared the winner, he must now find a way to encourage the president to step aside in a somewhat gracious manner for the good of America.
That scenario doesn't seem likely given the discord that has been brewing across this divided country for the past four years.
Perhaps the most chilling indication of what's to come was from Trump's oldest son, Donald Jr, who put a call to arms out to his father's supporters.
In a tweet that was quickly hidden from view for violating Twitter's "civic integrity policy" he said "the best thing for America's future" was for his father to "go to total war over this election to expose all of the fraud, cheating, dead/no longer in state voters, that has been going on for far too long."
This may be starting to feel like a never-ending election, but there's every indication the battle's just beginning.
Originally published as 'Robbed': Trump's secret strategy to fight for re-election