Politics

Trump Announces Federal Voter Fraud Probe Amid Questionable Claims

President cites illegal immigrants, two-state voters and dead people

President Donald Trump believes up to 5 million people voted illegally. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump on Wednesday announced he will order a federal investigation into his claims that up to 5 million illegal immigrants cast votes in November and cost him a popular vote victory over Hillary Clinton.

Trump made the announcement his preferred way, not by delivering a statement from the White House’s Roosevelt Room or issuing a written statement, but rather as part of an early morning Twitter blast.

The social media posts also included a presidential proclamation that he will announce his Supreme Court nominee next Thursday.

The president promised a “major” probe into his claims that illegal votes cost him a win in the popular vote despite him winning the Electoral College vote, “including those registered to vote in two states, those who are illegal” and “those registered to vote who are dead (and many for a long time).”

“Depending” on the investigation’s findings, the president indicated he is ready to “strengthen up” voting practices across the country.

Trump’s Democratic rival Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by roughly 3 million. He won in the Electoral College with 306 votes to Clinton’s 232.

The still-young Trump administration appears to be attempting to move beyond media reports that the president and his senior aides are lying about widespread voter fraud in the most recent presidential election. The issue was thrust back into the national spotlight after reports surfaced Monday evening that Trump, during a meeting with House and Senate leaders, had reiterated his voter-fraud charges.

New White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer responded to a question Tuesday about whether Trump is sticking by his claims by responding that “the president does believe that.”

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“He has stated that before. I think he’s stated his concerns of voter fraud and people voting illegally during the campaign,” Spicer said. “He continues to maintain that belief based on studies and evidence that people have presented to him.”

When a reporter pressed Spicer about the new president’s alleged evidence, he again pointed to unidentified “studies and information he has.”

The new press secretary later cited a 2008 Pew study, but that research has been questioned and was completed long before the 2016 general election.

Spicer appeared to leave open the door to a probe when he said “maybe we will” in response to a question about a federal investigation, but then seemed shocked when another reporter asked him to confirm that possibility.

“I said it was possible. Anything is possible. It was a hypothetical question,” an exasperated Spicer said. “My point to you is … he made a comment last night on something he has believed and said for a long, long time.”

It wasn’t long before — after briefing reporters for only about 45 minutes — Spicer was slipped a note by an aide; he abruptly ended the administration’s second press briefing a moment later.

Notably, when asked about Spicer’s comments and the president’s continued “belief” that massive voter fraud, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., told reporters he has “seen no evidence to that effect. I’ve made that very, very clear.”

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Meantime, Trump’s announcement came a day after he met with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., and the chairman and ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., in the Oval Office to discuss his pending nomination.

Grassley later called it a “frank” discussion.

“For my part, I told the President that he made a very good start with his list of 21 widely respected and mainstream judges,” he said in a statement. “The most important criteria is to pick someone who will adhere to the law and the Constitution. They must be committed to following the law, not making the law.”

Schumer, on the other hand, said in a statement that he told the president “that Senate Democrats would fight any nominee that was outside of the mainstream.”

On Tuesday, Spicer said Trump will look for a Supreme Court nominee who upholds "liberty" and the Constitution, and avoids making laws via their decisions, Spicer said.

“I think it's pretty mainstream to support the Constitution, pretty mainstream to respect, to follow the law and not to create laws from the bench,” Spicer said. “That's what I think the majority of Americans would agree [with].”

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