That’s the suggestion made in a story on the US news site Axios, citing “three sources familiar with his private comments”.

The article alleges that the Trump campaign team has a plan to declare victory if the US president is ahead, even if he has not yet won the 270 electoral college votes he needs to be sure of victory.

The US president responded by saying: “That was a false report. We’ll look at what happens.”

But he repeated long-standing complaints about the role postal ballots are likely to play in this election, adding: “I think it’s a terrible thing when ballots can be collected after an election.”

In fact, the process of counting all the ballots always takes days or even weeks in US elections. That doesn’t often usually affect the outcome, but it could this time. Here’s why.

More postal ballots this year

Thanks to the Covid-19 epidemic, pollsters are expecting a record number of mail-in votes in this presidential election.

All states offer postal voting for residents in certain circumstances, but the rules have been relaxed this year because of the epidemic.

Some states, like New Jersey, every voter has been mailed a postal ballot for the first time.

Polling suggests that many more people likely to send their vote in this time than in 2016, when around a fifth voted by mail.

How could this affect election night?

Although postal votes are cast early, they are generally counted after walk-in votes on election nights, so a big postal vote could delay the overall count (some states have already begun processing and indeed counting mail-in votes to speed up the process).

There is also evidence that the rise in postal voting could lead to a higher turnout overall, potentially extending the count.

Crucially, postal voting historically tends to favour the Democrats, and that effect could be bigger this time.

A New York Times/Siena College Research Institute poll last month found that Democrat voters said they were almost three times more likely than Republicans to vote by mail.

So the early part of the count on election night could favour Donald Trump, but the Democrats might make a comeback later as more postal votes are counted.

Some pundits predict that the President could appear to be ahead early in key swing states like Pennsylvania, only for postal votes to change the outcome.

Pennsylvania does not process or count votes until election day, so it could be some time before the result is known.

The state’s top election official Kathy Boockvar has said she is confident that the “overwhelming majority” of votes will be counted by the Friday after the election.

Threats of legal action

Mr Trump has repeatedly threatened legal action if a key result is swing by postal votes counted late. Yesterday he told reporters: “As soon as that election is over, we’re going in with our lawyers.”

It’s not clear what the basis of any legal complaint would be.

Mr Trump has repeatedly said, without offering evidence, that postal voting is at risk from widespread fraud. In fact, research shows that the risk of fraud is low with postal votes, and a commission President Trump set up to examine voter fraud was quietly disbanded in 2018 after failing to find evidence it was a significant problem.

The president has also stated falsely that not declaring the winner on election night would be against precedent. In fact, the final count is never completed on the night of presidential elections, but the media usually have enough results within hours to be able to predict the electoral college winner, and losers generally concede defeat.

This week the president said Democrat officials in charge of the counts in certain states might simply add votes to the blue tally in a bid to steal the election.

What if Trump won’t leave the White House?

Mr Trump, who is behind in most polls at time of writing, has said that he may not accept defeat gracefully, citing concerns about the voting system.

At a press conference last month he refused to publicly commit to a peaceful transfer of power, saying: “There won’t be a transfer, frankly. There will be a continuation.”

This has led to speculation that Mr Trump could become the first sitting president to be removed from the White House by force.

It’s not clear how realistic this scenario is, or how it might play out.

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, has said that the military would play no role in any dispute over the transfer of power, saying: “In the event of a dispute over some aspect of the elections, by law US courts and the US Congress are required to resolve any disputes, not the U.S. Military.

“We will not turn our backs on the Constitution of the United States.”