Donald Trump continues to believe that widespread voter fraud is why he lost the popular vote (by 2.9 million, something he apparently just can’t let go) — and his press secretary backs him up.
During a press briefing at the White House on Tuesday, Sean Spicer doubled down on comments Trump made Monday at a meeting with congressional leaders that 3 million to 5 million “illegal” votes caused him to lose the popular vote.
“He continues to maintain that belief, based on studies and evidence that people have presented to him,” Spicer said to reporters, when repeatedly asked if the president still believes this claim, despite it being repeatedly debunked since he first raised it shortly after the election.
There was no actual evidence of voter fraud in the election, nor in any recent U.S. election. There’s not even evidence of modest voter fraud, let alone “widespread,” as the president suggests. There were just four documented cases of people voting illegally in the 2016 election, according to a close analysis by the Washington Post.
House Speaker Paul Ryan and GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham agree. After Trump made his comments Monday, Ryan said there was “no evidence” of widespread voter fraud and Graham implored the president to “please stop saying it.”
But Spicer inaccurately cited a study that Trump saw to suggest there was massive electoral fraud.
“I think there’s been studies,” he continued. “There was one that came out of Pew in 2008 that showed that 14 percent of people that had voted were not citizens. There’s other studies that have been presented to him.”
The “study” Spicer referred to was written in 2012, not 2008, and does not actually say anyone voted illegally. Titled “Inaccurate, Costly, and Inefficient: Evidence That America’s Voter Registration System Needs an Upgrade,” the Pew study said there are around 24 million voter registrations in the U.S. that are no longer valid, including 1.8 million dead people who are still listed as voters. Nowhere does the study say those 1.8 million people actually cast votes.
The unsubstantiated rumors of voter fraud by undocumented workers could have originated from a series of tweets by a conservative, self-declared “expert” in voter fraud, Gregg Phillips.
Phillips’ claims then got picked up by right-wing blogs and conspiracy theory-leaning pundits, which could be where Trump heard about it.
“He believes what he believes,” Spicer said.