Trump to seek investigation of ‘voter fraud’ that his own lawyers say didn’t happen
US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he would seek a major investigation of alleged voter fraud in the November election, despite his own lawyers’ assertion that it did not happen, and overwhelming consensus among state officials, election experts and politicians that voter fraud is rare in the United States.
“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]. Depending on results, we will strengthen up voting procedures!” Trump said on Twitter.
Trump, who has bristled at references to losing the popular vote to Democrat Hillary Clinton, did not elaborate beyond the two Twitter posts. The Republican real estate mogul and reality television star has never substantiated his claim of voter fraud.
State officials have said they found no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the November 8 election and there is no history of it in US elections. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, the most senior Republican in Congress, repeated on Tuesday that he had seen no evidence to support it.
Trump won the state-by-state Electoral College tally that decides the presidency but Clinton had about 2.9 million more popular votes. The popular vote and allegations of Russia influencing the election on Trump’s behalf have led to criticism that his victory was not legitimate.
Trump’s own lawyers rejected the notion of voter fraud when they challenged calls for a recount by Green Party candidate Jill Stein. ““All available evidence suggests that the 2016 general election was not tainted by fraud or mistake,” they said at the time in a written challenge to Stein’s petition.
Trump’s announcement on Twitter follows a White House news briefing on Tuesday in which his spokesman Sean Spicer confirmed that Trump continued to believe that millions of illegal immigrants voted in the election. Spicer did not provide any evidence to support those beliefs.
Federal investigations of voter fraud are rare. A five-year probe initiated by the George W. Bush administration turned up no evidence of voter fraud and ended in resignations and more investigations for the Department of Justice, which enforces federal voting rights laws.
Trump’s attorney general nominee, Republican Senator Jeff Sessions, has been criticised for his record on voting rights and race relations. A voter fraud case he prosecuted as a US attorney in Alabama in 1986 helped derail his confirmation as a federal judge in 1986.
In a 2007 report titled “The Truth About Voter Fraud,” by the Brennan Centre cited voter fraud incident rates between 0.00004 per cent and 0.0009 per cent. A study by the Washington Post found 31 credible cases of impersonation fraud out of more than 1 billion votes cast in elections from 2000 to 2014. Arizona State University studies in 2012 and 2016 found similarly low rate.