Trump claims Democrats 'using COVID to steal an election'

President TrumpDonald TrumpMeghan McCain: Democrats 'should give a little credit' to Trump for COVID-19 vaccine Trump testing czar warns lockdowns may be on table if people don't get vaccinated Overnight Health Care: CDC details Massachusetts outbreak that sparked mask update | White House says national vaccine mandate 'not under consideration at this time' 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 BidenCDC chief clarifies vaccine comments: 'There will be no nationwide mandate' Overnight Defense: First group of Afghan evacuees arrives in Virginia | Biden signs Capitol security funding bill, reimbursing Guard | Pentagon raises health protection level weeks after lowering it Biden urges local governments to stave off evictions 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 WarrenCalifornia Democrats warn of low turnout in recall election Pelosi disputes Biden's power to forgive student loans Warren hits the airwaves for Newsom ahead of recall election 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 DeJoyFBI investigating political fundraising of former employees of Postmaster General DeJoy Postal Service raises stamps to 58 cents as part of restructuring plan Lawmakers request investigation into Postal Service's covert operations program 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) WallaceAnything-but-bipartisan 1/6 commission will seal Pelosi's retirement. Here's why Biden walks fine line with Fox News Aides who clashed with Giuliani intentionally gave him wrong time for Trump debate prep: book 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.