Trump Charges Millions of Fraudulent Votes And Asks for Probe

  • President cites need to probe illegal and deceased voters
  • Trump claim 2016 vote was tainted hasn’t been substantiated

President Trump Vows to Target Voter Fraud

President Donald Trump said he wants an investigation into fraudulent voting as he claimed millions of illegal ballots were cast in the 2016 election, which he won in the Electoral College despite losing the popular vote by almost 3 million ballots.

"You have people that are registered who are dead, who are illegals, who are in two states. You have people registered in two states," Trump said in an interview broadcast Wednesday on ABC’s "World News Tonight" program. "There are millions of votes, in my opinion."

CNN reported at least two Trump administration officials are simultaneously registered to vote in more than one state: senior adviser Stephen Bannon, who was registered in New York and Florida, and Treasury Secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin, registered in New York and California. While it is illegal to cast ballots in two states, it isn’t illegal to be registered in two places. Florida voting authorities canceled Bannon’s registration Wednesday.

Trump has repeatedly made the unsubstantiated claim that the 2016 election was tainted by massive voter fraud. He has not provided any credible evidence to back up the claim. He didn’t specify which agency would handle the inquiry and didn’t say whether he had already issued such a directive.

Trump’s pledge to call for an investigation comes after he told members of Congress on Monday at a private reception that he believes he lost the popular vote in his election because millions of undocumented immigrants cast ballots for his opponent, his press secretary said Tuesday.

Trump believes as many as 5 million people voted illegally in the last U.S. election, White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters.

Democrat Hillary Clinton won the national popular vote by about 2.9 million ballots, but Trump won enough states to secure 306 Electoral College votes and the presidency. Since his election, he has repeatedly said he would have won the popular vote if not for massive voter fraud that benefited Clinton.

“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 said in a pair of Twitter posts on Wednesday. “Depending on results, we will strengthen up voting procedures!”

‘Not Tainted’

The allegation has been disputed by Democratic and Republican officials, including the state officials who run the nation’s election systems. Several said Trump’s allegations of voter fraud undermine confidence in U.S. democracy.

Previous probes by academic researchers, the Department of Justice and other government agencies have found little evidence of large-scale voter fraud in the U.S. The National Association of Secretaries of State said there was no evidence of such fraud in 2016.

“We are not aware of any evidence that supports the voter fraud claims made by President Trump,” the group of state elections officials, a majority of them Republicans, said Tuesday in a statement. “In the lead-up to the November 2016 election, secretaries of state expressed their confidence in the systemic integrity of our election process as a bipartisan group, and they stand behind that statement today.”

Michigan Vote

Trump’s own legal team argued that the 2016 election “was not tainted by fraud” in response to a recount effort by Green Party candidate Jill Stein in Michigan.

“All available evidence suggests that the 2016 general election was not tainted by fraud or mistake,” Trump’s lawyers said in a Dec. 1 legal filing.

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican, said in a reply to Trump’s tweet that it would be difficult for illegal voters to cast ballots.

“We conducted a review 4 years ago in Ohio & already have a statewide review of 2016 election underway,” he said in a tweet Wednesday. “Easy to vote, hard to cheat.”

Pelosi Responds

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Trump’s call for an investigation was a sign of his insecurity.

“I frankly feel very sad about the president making this claim,” said Pelosi, a California Democrat. “I felt sorry for him. I even prayed for him, but then I prayed for the United States of America.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, told reporters Tuesday that he had seen “no evidence” of massive fraud in November’s elections.

Spicer on Tuesday referred to a study “that came out of Pew in 2008 that showed 14 percent of people who have voted were non-citizens” as evidence that 2016 voter fraud was widespread.

It was not clear what information Spicer was referring to. A Pew Charitable Trusts spokeswoman said that no such study exists.

“We did not publish a report in 2008 on that topic,” Pew spokeswoman Kelly Hoffman said in an e-mail. “Our work has focused on inefficient and inaccurate voter registration processes, which are not evidence of fraud at polling places.”

Trump has previously cited a separate study from 2014 that found that 14 percent of non-citizens may have been registered to vote in 2008.

Disputed Study

The widely disputed study, first described in a 2014 Washington Post opinion piece, found that some of those non-citizens may have voted. The newspaper, at the time, published a series of rebuttals questioning the data and conclusions and has since posted a note on it saying that another peer-reviewed article argued the findings “were biased and that the authors’ data do not provide evidence of non-citizen voting in U.S. elections.”

A 2012 study by Pew found that as many as one in eight voter registrations in the U.S. either had significant inaccuracies or were no longer valid. The author of that study, David Becker, said the research didn’t back up Trump’s claim of vote fraud.

“As I’ve noted before, voting integrity better in this election than ever before,” Becker, now the executive director of the Center for Election Innovation & Research, said Tuesday in a Twitter post. “Zero evidence of fraud.”

Asked repeatedly on Tuesday whether Trump would pursue an investigation into the alleged large-scale voter fraud, Spicer said “anything is possible,” before turning to other issues.

“Maybe we will” investigate, Spicer said. “We’ll see where we go from here but right now the president’s focus is on putting people back to work.”

Matthew Miller, former director of the Department of Justice’s Office of Public Affairs during the Obama administration, called Trump’s planned investigation “dangerous.”

“The federal government is now going to launch an investigation into something where there is no evidence any wrongdoing has occurred, all because the president’s ego is hurt,” he said. “Then Republicans will use that investigation to justify restrictions that make it harder for people to vote.”

— With assistance by Arit John, Billy House, Steven T. Dennis, and Margaret Talev

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