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Trump’s abusing his position by trying to halt vote count, says top international election observer

November 5, 2020, 3:08 PM UTC

The head of the international team sent to monitor the U.S. election has described Donald Trump’s call for a halt to vote counting as an “abuse of his position” as President.

Michael Georg Link, a former foreign minister in the German government of Chancellor Angela Merkel, is leading a team dispatched to the election by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). While en route to Philadelphia on Thursday, he told Fortune that the President’s push for an end to counting was “undermining trust in the electoral process.”

“It is confusing to everybody,” Link said. “The President, at the federal level, is not competent for the election. That is the exclusive competence of the states.

“The fact that [Trump], as President of the United States, from the White House declared not only a premature victory—which he can’t—and called for an end of the counting—which he of course must not do—is an unprecedented abuse of his position,” Link said.

The observer’s accusation came less than a day after his team issued its initial evaluation of the elections, which it said were “competitive and well managed”—though it also noted that “the campaign was characterized by deeply entrenched political polarization that often obscured the broader policy debate and included baseless allegations of systematic fraud.”

“Baseless allegations of systematic deficiencies, notably by the incumbent President, including on election night, harm public trust in democratic institutions,” the OSCE team said Wednesday.

On Wednesday, the day after the election, the Trump campaign took legal steps to try stopping the count in battleground states including Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Georgia. The mailed-in ballots that are currently being counted tend to skew Democratic, reducing Trump’s chances of success in those states.

The OSCE is the world’s top organization when it comes to election monitoring, but its mission to the U.S. had to be scaled down because of pandemic-related precautions and travel restrictions. It planned to send 500 observers but could manage only 30.

The Organization of American States (OAS) sent an observation mission to the last election in 2016, but this time its observers were not invited.