Trump says will seek probe of alleged voter fraud
President Donald Trump announced Wednesday he would seek a probe into what he calls widespread voter fraud in the election that brought him to power, hammering away at allegations widely dismissed as baseless.
No public evidence has emerged of large-scale illegal voting in the November election, and Trump and the White House have failed to substantiate the president’s claim, which he repeated this week.
Trump’s own lawyers have stated in legal filings that there was no evidence of fraud in the November 8 election.
Even as major US media branded Trump’s allegation an outright lie and lawmakers urged him to drop the subject, the president stuck to his guns on Wednesday.
“I will be asking for a major investigation into VOTER FRAUD, including those registered to vote in two states, those who are illegal and even those registered to vote who are dead (and many for a long time),” Trump wrote in the latest of his early morning tweets.
“Depending on the results we will strengthen up voting procedures!” Trump added.
Trump has dwelled at length on the results of an election he won, against all expectations.
He argues that were it not for illegal immigrants voting, he would have won not just the state-weighted electoral college but also the popular vote, which was taken by Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton by around 2.9 million votes.
Hours after Trump told congressional leaders that as many as five million people could have voted illegally back in November, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Tuesday that this belief was based “on the studies he’s seen.”
“I think the president has believed that for a while based on studies and information he has,” Spicer said.
If proven, it would be an enormous political scandal.
Spicer said the Republican president nonetheless had confidence in the election outcome.
The president has previously cited a Pew report from 2012 that concluded more than “1.8 million deceased individuals are listed as voters.”
– ‘Knock this off’ –
That report provided no evidence to support Trump’s claim, first made in October, that “people that have died 10 years ago are still voting,” or that others voted in their name.
David Becker, the primary author of the Pew report, tweeted in response to the Trump team’s claims that he “can confirm that report made no findings re: voter fraud.”
Trump has also cited an Old Dominion University study which suggested 14 percent of non-citizens said they were registered to vote.
But that study has been dismissed as having flawed methodology, with a sample size of under 1,000 and no link between being registered to vote and actually voting.
Even Trump’s lawyers have stated there is no evidence of fraud in the 2016 election.
In a filing late last year against Green Party candidate Jill Stein’s efforts to force a recount of votes in Michigan, they wrote: “All evidence suggests that the 2016 general election was not tainted by fraud or mistake.”
In Congress, Trump is not finding much backing for his claims.
Asked about alleged fraud, House speaker Paul Ryan said Monday, “I’ve seen no evidence to that effect.”
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina urged Trump to provide evidence for his allegations or “knock this off.”
“This is going to erode his ability to govern this country if he does not stop it,” Graham told CNN.
In an opinion piece published Wednesday, veteran Washington Post political reporter Dan Balz sought to explain Trump’s behavior.
“It is either a deliberate attempt to undermine faith in the democratic process, an exhortation to those who favor new restrictions on access to the ballot box or the worrisome trait of someone with immense power willing to make wild statements without any credible evidence,” Balz wrote.