President Trump Continues To Claim That ‘Millions’ Cast Illegal Votes In Election
Despite the lack of evidence, Donald Trump continues to claim that there were 'millions' of illegal votes cast in 2016.
Donald Trump continues to insist that the 2016 General Election was tainted by voter fraud, specifically claiming that ‘millions’ of illegal immigrants were able to vote, despite the fact that there is absolutely no evidence to support this claim:
WASHINGTON — President Trump used his first official meeting with congressional leaders on Monday to falsely claim that millions of unauthorized immigrants had robbed him of a popular vote majority, a return to his obsession with the election’s results even as he seeks support for his legislative agenda.
The claim, which he has made before on Twitter, has been judged untrue by numerous fact-checkers. The new president’s willingness to bring it up at a White House reception in the State Dining Room is an indication that he continues to dwell on the implications of his popular vote loss even after assuming power.
Mr. Trump appears to remain concerned that the public will view his victory — and his entire presidency — as illegitimate if he does not repeatedly challenge the idea that Americans were deeply divided about sending him to the White House to succeed President Barack Obama.
Mr. Trump received 304 electoral votes to capture the White House, but he fell almost three million votes short of Hillary Clinton in the popular vote. That reality appears to have bothered him since Election Day, prompting him to repeatedly complain that adversaries were trying to undermine him.
Moving into the White House appears not to have tempered that anxiety. Several people familiar with the closed-door meeting Monday night, who asked to remain anonymous in discussing a private conversation, said Mr. Trump used the opportunity to brag about his victory.
As part of that conversation, Mr. Trump asserted that between three million and five million unauthorized immigrants voted for Mrs. Clinton. That is similar to a Twitter message he posted in late November that said he would have won the popular vote “if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.”
Voting officials across the country have said there is virtually no evidence of people voting illegally, and certainly not millions of them. White House officials did not respond to requests for a comment on Mr. Trump’s discussion of the issue.
Trump’s claims about voter fraud in the election aren’t new, of course. Republican advocates for strict Voter ID laws have made similar claims about voting fraud in order to justify the laws that they support even when they clearly have a disproportionate impact on minority and poor voters, or when the identification requirements result in people who have voting for decades and who are clearly American citizens being denied the right to vote. As I’ve noted before, though, there is little to no evidence to support the contention that in-person voter fraud is a major problem, least of all that it amounts to a situation where ‘millions’ of people are voting illegally. Of course, there are other forms of potential voter fraud that could occur, including fraudulent registration and fraud involving the use of absentee ballots, but Voter ID laws generally can’t catch that kind of fraud and there is little evidence to suggest that it occurs on a massive scale in any case. Indeed, the facts surrounding last November’s election make it clear that there is quite simply no evidence to support the President’s contention that there were millions of illegal votes placed on Election Day whether one is talking about in-person voter fraud or seemingly legal votes cast by people who are not legally eligible to vote, this despite the fact that there have been many efforts by both supporters of Voter ID laws and independent scholars to determine if such fraud can be detected. What’s ironic in the President’s case, of course, is the fact that his
What’s ironic in the President’s case, of course, is the fact that his claims about massive voter fraud threaten to undermine the legitimacy of his own win in the Electoral College. As I’ve noted before, the entirety of the President’s victory in the Electoral College could be wiped out if he had not won in three states where his combined margin of victory amounted to less than 80,000 votes, specifically Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Assuming for the sake of argument that there were millions of illegal votes cast in November, that logically brings up the question of how many of the votes cast for President Trump were illegally cast. If even a small percentage of these illegal votes were cast for President Trump in the states that he won, then that calls his win into as much doubt as it would Hillary Clinton’s win in the popular vote column. Unless you believe that all of these allegedly illegal votes were cast for Hillary Clinton, which is unlikely, then it’s clear that Trump is undermining the legitimacy of his own win just as much as he thinks he is undermining Clinton’s lead on the popular vote side.
What’s more concerning, of course, is the fact that Trump’s claims are a direct attack on the legitimacy of democratic government itself:
There is no benign explanation for President Trump’s false assertion that millions of people voted illegally in the last election. 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.
By repeating as president what he had said as a candidate, for whatever purpose, Trump is now striking at the foundation of a democratic society. This is yet another example of Trump being willing to cast doubt on information, individuals or institutions that he believes threaten his legitimacy, challenge his authority or question his actions, from attacks on “phony polls” or the “dishonest media” to assertions now of vast voter fraud.
This is not a debate about the size of the crowd at last week’s presidential inauguration. That is a piddling controversy compared to his claim that the election system overseen by the states is somehow riddled with fraud. Trump is chipping away at a shared public confidence in a system that is fundamental to a representative government for no apparent reason other than that he’s bothered by the fact that, although duly elected and now in the White House, he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by almost 3 million votes.
Early Wednesday, the president tweeted that he would ask for a “major investigation” into voter fraud. But it is far from clear what the scope of this possible investigation would be, what Trump’s real intentions are in calling for it (though he suggested strengthening voting procedures as a possible goal) or who would conduct it. Everyone should wait to hear more. The president has preferred his own version of what happened in November in the popular vote, even if that damages the very system of government atop which he now sits.
The next move is now his.
Given how the President has acted since he stepped into the Presidential election in June 2015, I doubt this will end well.