Trump claims Democrats 'using COVID to steal an election'

President TrumpDonald John TrumpObama calls on Senate not to fill Ginsburg's vacancy until after election Planned Parenthood: 'The fate of our rights' depends on Ginsburg replacement Progressive group to spend M in ad campaign on Supreme Court vacancy 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 BidenSenate Republicans face tough decision on replacing Ginsburg What Senate Republicans have said about election-year Supreme Court vacancies Biden says Ginsburg successor should be picked by candidate who wins on Nov. 3 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 WarrenBiden's fiscal program: What is the likely market impact? Warren, Schumer introduce plan for next president to cancel ,000 in student debt The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Don't expect a government check anytime soon 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 DeJoyThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by The Air Line Pilots Association - White House moves closer to Pelosi on virus relief bill Judge issues nationwide injunction against Postal Service changes Postal service changes delayed 7 percent of nation's first-class mail: Democratic report 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 town hall draws 3.3 million viewers for CNN Gates says travel ban made COVID-19 worse in US CNN slammed for soft questions during Biden town hall: 'The media is broken' 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.