The head of the international team sent to monitor the U.S. election has described Donald Trump’s call for a halt to vote-counting as an “abuse of his position” as President.
Michael Georg Link, a former foreign minister in the German government of Chancellor Angela Merkel, is leading a team dispatched to the election by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). While en route to Philadelphia on Thursday, he told Fortune that the President’s push for an end to counting was “undermining trust in the electoral process.”
“It is confusing to everybody,” Link said. “The President, at the federal level, is not competent for the election. That is the exclusive competence of the states.”
“The fact that [Trump], as President of the United States, from the White House declared not only a premature victory—which he can’t—and called for an end of the counting—which he of course must not do—is an unprecedented abuse of his position,” Link said.
The observer’s accusation came less than a day after his team issued its initial evaluation of the elections, which it said were “competitive and well managed”—though it also noted that “the campaign was characterized by deeply entrenched political polarization that often obscured the broader policy debate and included baseless allegations of systematic fraud.”
“Baseless allegations of systematic deficiencies, notably by the incumbent President, including on election night, harm public trust in democratic institutions,” the OSCE team said Wednesday.
On Wednesday, the day after the election, the Trump campaign took legal steps to try stopping the count in battleground states including Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Georgia. The mailed-in ballots that are currently being counted tend to skew Democratic, reducing Trump’s chances of success in those states.
The OSCE is the world’s top organization when it comes to election monitoring, but its mission to the U.S. had to be scaled down because of pandemic-related precautions and travel restrictions. It planned to send 500 observers but could only manage 30.
The Organization of American States (OAS) sent an observation mission to the last election in 2016, but this time its observers were not invited.
More from Fortune’s special report on what business needs from the 2020 election:
- What voters need from the 2020 election: Common ground
- What business needs from the 2020 election
- What Wall Street needs from the 2020 election
- What unemployed Americans need from the 2020 election
- What small-business owners need from the 2020 election
- What restaurants need from the 2020 election
- What unions need from the 2020 election
- What Silicon Valley needs from the 2020 election
- What unbanked Americans need from the 2020 election
- What low-wage workers need from the 2020 election
- What working parents need from the 2020 election
- What the health care industry needs from the 2020 election