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Donald Trump

Trump told lawmakers that ‘illegals’ cost him popular vote

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 24 January, 2017, 6:24pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 24 January, 2017, 11:24pm

US President Donald Trump told members of Congress in a private reception that he believes he lost the popular vote in his election because millions of undocumented immigrants cast votes for his opponent, an unsubstantiated claim he first made as president-elect that drew widespread criticism.

Trump told Republican and Democratic congressional leaders at the White House reception that he would have won the popular vote had three to five million undocumented immigrants not cast ballots for Democrat Hillary Clinton, three people familiar with the remark said. Two of the people said Trump used the term “illegals” to describe the alleged immigrant voters.

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.

A White House spokesman, Marc Short, said that the administration would not comment because the reception was off the record. The White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, later said that he would “look into” the report.

It is illegal for anyone but citizens to vote in most US elections, and there is no evidence to support Trump’s claim that at least 3 million undocumented immigrants voted in the 2016 election. There were sporadic reports of people voting illegally, as there are in nearly all elections, but federal and state officials of both parties said that the election’s integrity was overwhelmingly secure.

Trump first asserted that illegal ballots had tilted the popular vote in Clinton’s favour in a November 27 tweet.

“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 said.

He provided no evidence for the claim. Elections officials in California, New Hampshire and Virginia said it was baseless. The fact-checking website Politifact gave Trump a “pants on fire” rating for the statement.

He has subsequently said that he would have won the popular vote had he campaigned for the most votes in the election, rather than focusing on an Electoral College victory.