President Donald Trump on Monday called on Florida election officials to buck the state's recount procedures and declare candidates he endorsed in the state's Senate and gubernatorial races as the winners.
Recounts for three statewide races in Florida ― Senate, governor and agriculture commissioner ― began on Saturday after midterm election tallies were too close to call. But Trump on Monday tweeted that victories should be declared for the two candidates he supported: Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) in the Senate race and former Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) for governor.
"The Florida Election should be called in favor of Rick Scott and Ron DeSantis in that large numbers of new ballots showed up out of nowhere, and many ballots are missing or forged," Trump tweeted. "An honest vote count is no longer possible ― ballots massively infected. Must go with Election Night!"
Scott ran in the Senate race against incumbent Bill Nelson (D), while DeSantis faced off against Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum (D) for the Florida governor's seat.
As of Saturday, Scott narrowly led Nelson by about 0.15 of a percentage point, well within the state's 0.25 percent threshold for a manual recount. Gillum trailed DeSantis by less than 0.5 of a percentage point, which will require a machine recount of ballots.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Sunday urged Scott to recuse himself from the state's recounts.
"Scott should recuse himself immediately," Schumer said on CNN's "State of the Union." "He has a self-interest in jaundicing this election. He should be out of it altogether."
But Scott on Sunday filed a handful of lawsuits seeking to give law enforcement custody of election equipment and prevent certain ballots from being included in official results. Florida accepts ballots from overseas and military voters through Nov. 16 as long as they are postmarked by Election Day.
Despite the Florida governor's baseless claim that Nelson is "trying to commit fraud to win this election," Florida's Department of State and Department of Law Enforcement have both said they have not received any allegations of fraud.
Nelson's campaign also has a lawsuit. It seeks to force the state to count ballots thrown out because the signature on them didn't match the one on file with the state's voter registration.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) lashed out against Trump's baseless claims against the recounts, tweeting that Florida election officials "must ignore the rantings of this president."
"COUNT EVERY VOTE," Sanders tweeted.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) stoked fears about voter fraud on Saturday when he tweeted a picture of a mystery container marked "provisional ballot box" in Broward County.
"I don't know what's in this sealed box," Rubio tweeted. "But this dysfunction in #BrowardElections is not acceptable. At a minimum it undermines public trust in the election & creates opportunity for mischief."
It turned out the box contained supplies such as pens and envelopes ― not ballots.
On Monday, he urged Florida election officials to count "every vote legally cast & received within timeframe required by law," though noted he believed there had been "repeated violation of election law" in Palm Beach and Broward counties.
Sam Levine contributed reporting.
This story has been updated throughout.