Consider it another Trump flip-flop: back in October, Donald Trump told a crowd, “I will totally accept the results of this great and historic presidential election, if I win.” Trump went on to decisively win the Electoral College, but now he is questioning the results anyway. In a tweet this weekend, the president-elect alleged — providing zero evidence — that “millions of people” voted illegally, and that that’s the reason Hillary Clinton won the popular vote.
The latest totals show Hillary Clinton leading Trump in the popular vote by more than 2 million. Trump tweeted on Sunday afternoon, “I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.” He did not provide evidence to back up that claim, and Trump’s representatives did not immediately respond to a request for more information.
Press secretary Sean Spicer said Mr Trump “does believe that”, but offered no evidence to support the claim when pressed by reporters. Mr Trump has repeated his claim to explain why he lost the popular vote to Democrat Hillary Clinton. “He continues to maintain that belief based on studies and evidence that people have presented to him,” Mr Spicer told reporters on Tuesday.
Trump’s unfounded claim appears to have originated with the website Infowars and radio host Alex Jones, who reported that 3 million people voted illegally, citing flawed evidence. But any notion of widespread voter fraud has been widely rejected.
To his critics, Trump’s claim was the latest egregious example of his being a willing and eager sucker for fake news, or worse.
What does Politifact have to say about this?
Where’s the report?
As evidence of its claim, InfoWars’ headline refers to a report from VoteFraud.org and tweets from Gregg Phillips, whose Twitter profile says he’s the founder of VoteStand, a voter fraud reporting app.
There is no report from VoteFraud.org, however, and Phillips told PolitiFact he is not affiliated with that website. The information comes from tweets made by from Phillips on Nov. 11 and Nov. 13.
Here they are:
We have verified more than three million votes cast by non-citizens.
We are joining .@TrueTheVote to initiate legal action. #unrigged
— Gregg Phillips (@JumpVote) November 13, 2016
Completed analysis of database of 180 million voter registrations.
Number of non-citizen votes exceeds 3 million.
Consulting legal team.
— Gregg Phillips (@JumpVote) November 11, 2016
AUSTIN, Texas The Sunday after the presidential election, Gregg Phillips, founder of a health care analytics firm in Austin, Texas, tweeted, “We have verified more than three million votes cast by non-citizens. We are joining @truethevote to initiate legal action.”
The next day, Phillips’s assertion, based solely on his tweet, was splashed across the InfoWars site – run by Austin conspiracy theorist Alex Jones – that has become an agitprop site for President-elect Donald Trump, with the headline, “Report: Three Million Votes in Presidential Election Cast by Illegal Aliens. Trump may have won popular vote.” It was quickly picked up by the Drudge Report, a premier aggregator of the web with its own pro-Trump bent, which changed “Report” to “Claim.”
Phillips, a former executive with the Texas Health and Human Services Commission and prolific tweeter on voting fraud, was astonished his tweet was given such prominence. No one had called him.
The Sunday after Thanksgiving, when millions of Americans were watching football, the president-elect, apparently vexed by Hillary Clinton’s more than 2 million vote lead in the popular vote and Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein’s effort to get recounts in three states that Trump narrowly won, turned to Twitter, seemingly inspired by Phillips’ math.
“In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally,” he tweeted.
Trump was lambasted far and wide, and Phillips, whose tweet was quickly pinpointed as his inspiration, was besieged by reporters, fact-checkers and angry tweeters telling him to put up or shut up.
‘Isn’t everything on Twitter fake?’
Phillips’ tweet was a statement of what he thinks he will be able to prove once he is able to analyze True the Vote’s 50-state, 180 million registered voter data base when it is updated to reflect the election — not a statement, as it sounded, of what he was able to prove right now. Any legal action will wait for a Trump Justice Department.
Phillips said he thought Twitter allowed that kind of latitude.
“When did a tweet become news?” Phillips told the American-Statesman. “I’m just like a guy. I’m an ordinary guy. There are billions of tweets every single day and because somebody picked it up, made something of something I wrote, all of a sudden the president-elect is talking about me?”
“Seriously, is a tweet really news?” Phillips said. “Isn’t everything on Twitter fake?”
By the way, there are only 1560 individuals in the database Phillip’s source at “True the vote”
The New York Times wrote in its lead editorial Tuesday. “This is a lie, part of Mr. Trump’s pattern, stretching back many years, of disregard for indisputable facts,” and “There is no evidence of illegal voting on even a small scale anywhere in the country, let alone a systematic conspiracy involving `millions.’”