President Donald Trump on Wednesday claimed he had won the US election, despite the final results not yet being given, and said he would go the Supreme Court to dispute the counting of votes.
"We did win this election," Trump said in an extraordinary speech from the ceremonial East Room of the White House. "This is a fraud on the American public."
The Republican, who according to initial results is in a neck-and-neck race with Democrat Joe Biden, said he would go to court and "we want all voting to stop."
He appeared to mean stopping the counting of mail-in ballots which can be legally accepted by state election boards after Tuesday's election, provided they were sent in time.
Meanwhile, Democrat Joe Biden claimed Wednesday he was winning America's knife-edge election, but President Donald Trump shot right back by predicting his own victory and accusing his opponent of trying to "steal" the vote.
Appearing before supporters in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, after midnight, Biden said "we believe we're on track to win this election."
"Keep the faith, guys, we're going to win this."
But Biden, 77, warned that because of unprecedented use of mail-in voting during the coronavirus pandemic getting final results would "take a while."
Seconds later, Trump tweeted his rebuttal, saying: "We are up BIG, but they are trying to STEAL the Election."
The Republican president, who was watching results come in with staff at the White House, said he would shortly deliver a public statement.
"A big WIN!" he tweeted.
The dramatic clash, which stoked fears of electoral chaos, came after early results showed the two candidates largely retaining states already in their column, but without delivering the kind of knock-out blow that could decide the final tally quickly.