Washington: US president-elect Donald Trump claimed without providing evidence that he would have won the popular vote if “millions” of illegal votes were excluded, hours after criticizing an effort to recount votes in three battleground states.
“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,” Trump, a Republican, told his 16 million Twitter followers on Sunday. In a subsequent tweet, he claimed the media wasn’t reporting “serious voter fraud” in the Democratic-leaning states of California, New Hampshire and Virginia.
Trump offered nothing to back up his allegations of wrongdoing in the 8 November election—one that returned to his pre-election mantra of a “rigged” result. Although Trump beat Democrat Hillary Clinton 306-232 in the state-by-state Electoral College, the former secretary of state leads Trump by more than 2.2 million votes in the nationwide popular vote, according to a running tally by the non-partisan Cook Political Report. A Trump spokesman didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
“It appears that Mr. Trump is troubled by the fact that a growing majority of Americans did not vote for him,” Alex Padilla, California’s secretary of state, on Twitter. “His unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud in California and elsewhere are absurd. His reckless tweets are inappropriate and unbecoming of a president-elect.”
Cook shows Clinton with 64.65 million total votes to Trump’s 62.42 million, or a lead of 48.2% to 46.5%. Third-party and other candidates received 7.19 million votes, or about 5.4%. In 13 swing states, Trump won 48.4% of the vote to Clinton’s 46.6%.
“There is no credible evidence I have seen to show large numbers of non-citizens voting in US elections anywhere,” Rick Hasen, a political science professor at University of California, Irvine, told PolitiFact in its 18 November fact-check debunking claims similar to the one Trump made, which have spread on conspiracy-theory websites. “The idea that 3 million non-citizens could have illegally voted in our elections without being detected is obscenely ludicrous.”
Earlier on Sunday, Trump had criticized recounts proposed for Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, which are being spearheaded by Green Party candidate Jill Stein—an effort that Clinton’s campaign said on Saturday it would join.
In seven early-morning Twitter posts, Trump recounted previous comments by Clinton on the need to accept the election results, culminating in her concession speech on 9 November. “So much time and money will be spent—same result! Sad,” Trump concluded. On Saturday, he called the Green Party’s recount efforts a “scam to fill up their coffers.”
The president-elect spent the weekend at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, and returned to New York late Sunday. Several potential hires are due to visit Trump Tower in midtown Manhattan on Monday to interview for administration posts, including John Allison, a former chief executive of BB&T Corp.; Paul Atkins, a former Securities and Exchange commissioner; and David Clarke, the sheriff of Milwaukee County, Wisconsin.
Trump aides on Sunday fanned out across political talk shows to cast cold water on the recount efforts.
Reince Priebus, the incoming White House chief of staff, said on “Fox News Sunday” that the planned recount would serve “only to divide this country when we need to come together”.
The effort was “confounding and disappointing,” Trump senior adviser Kellyanne Conway said on NBC’s “Meet the Press”. “It turns out Team Hillary and their new BFF Jill Stein can’t accept reality,” Conway said on Saturday in a statement.
Stein has raised more than $6.1 million for her recount effort, with a $7 million goal, according to a running tally on her website.
Clinton’s campaign will participate in the recount “in order to ensure the process proceeds in a manner that is fair to all sides,” Clinton campaign lawyer Marc Elias said on Saturday.
Elias, in a post on the blogging website Medium, added that he doesn’t expect the action to overturn Trump’s election. He also detailed exhaustive efforts already undertaken by the Democrat’s team to assure the validity of the vote.
Clinton’s campaign hadn’t planned to initiate the recounts on its own because it hasn’t found “any actionable evidence of hacking or outside attempts to alter the voting technology,” Elias wrote.
A senior administration official, meanwhile, said in a statement that the government didn’t observe any increased level of malicious cyber-activity aimed at disrupting the election on election day and believes the elections were free and fair from a cybersecurity perspective. Bloomberg