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Trump claims Democrats 'using COVID to steal an election'

President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden adds to vote margin over Trump after Milwaukee County recount Krebs says allegations of foreign interference in 2020 election 'farcical'  Republicans ready to become deficit hawks again under a President Biden MORE on Monday claimed Democrats are using the coronavirus to "steal" the 2020 election, arguing closures of businesses and demands for mail-in voting are not driven by a pandemic that has killed nearly 180,000 Americans in five months, but to defeat him.

"What they’re doing is using COVID to steal an election," Trump told delegates at the Republican National Convention gathering in Charlotte, N.C. "They’re using COVID to defraud the American people, all of our people, of a fair and free election. We can’t do that."

The remarks come at the outset of the Republican National Convention as as the president finds himself trailing Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden adds to vote margin over Trump after Milwaukee County recount Krebs says allegations of foreign interference in 2020 election 'farcical'  New DOJ rule could allow executions by electrocution, firing squad MORE in national polls and a number of surveys of swing states.

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They were made as part of a stemwinder of a speech by Trump that included several misstatements, including that Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenThomas Piketty says pandemic is opportunity to address income inequality The Memo: Biden faces tough road on pledge to heal nation Disney laying off 32,000 workers as coronavirus batters theme parks MORE (D-Mass.) dropped out of her party's presidential primary the day before Super Tuesday's contests. She actually competed in those contests and after not winning a state, dropped out later.

Trump also repeated claims dispute by experts that mail ballots would be fraudulent and that they do not have security features to avoid fraud. Experts have consistently said there is little evidence of meaningful fraud in mail ballots.

As Trump spoke in Charlotte, postmaster general Louis DeJoyLouis DeJoyJudge orders Postal Service to sweep facilities twice a day for any ballots that can be delivered on time Brent Budowsky: Democracy in America is on trial Postal Service misses court-ordered deadline for unsent mail ballots MORE was testifying before a House committee over the Postal Service's ability to handle mail ballots and recent reforms that have slowed delivery.

Monday marked a rare instance where Trump directly accused Democrats of overstating the threat of the pandemic to gain an advantage in the election.

The U.S. has by far the most reported COVID-19 infections of any country in the world at 5.7 million, and more than 175,000 people in the U.S. have died of the virus.

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The president has in recent weeks increasingly called into question the possible result of November's election, alarming some Democrats and civic groups.

He told Chris WallaceChristopher (Chris) WallaceBiden adviser: 'He does not have any concern' about Trump lawsuits Public health expert: Americans no longer acting 'with common purpose' on pandemic Anti-Defamation League criticizes White House appointee 'who has consorted with racists' MORE in a "Fox News Sunday" interview in late July that he would wait to see the results of the vote before deciding whether to accept them.

He has taken to pushing the false claim that the result could take months or even years to determine if mail ballots are widely used, and on Monday, Trump told supporters that "the only way we're going to lose this election is if the election is rigged."

Press secretary Kayleigh McEnany last week would not say whether Trump would accept the results as legitimate if he lost.