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Trump Plans 'Major Investigation Into Voter Fraud' Amid Groundless Claims

Donald Trump has said that he intends to launch a “major investigation into voter fraud”, as controversy continues over his false claim that millions of people voted illegally in last year’s presidential election.
    Donald Trump still thinks millions voted illegally in November, the White House has said.   Photograph: Frederic J Brown/AFP/Getty Images

The president’s tweets on Wednesday morning did not specifically state a desire to review the 2016 presidential election, which he won in the electoral college despite Hillary Clinton winning about 3m more votes.
Trump cited improper voter registration as the focus of the putative investigation.

“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!” he wrote in two tweets.

All 50 states and the District of Columbia have finalized their election results with no reports of the kind of widespread fraud that Trump is alleging, the Associated Press reported.

On Tuesday, the White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, confirmed that Trump still believes the baseless claim that millions voted illegally in the election. “The president does believe that,” he said. “He has stated that before. I think he stated his concerns of voter fraud and people voting illegally during the campaign and he continues to maintain that belief based on studies and evidence that people have presented him.”

The controversy reignited on Monday night when Trump reiterated his view to congressional leaders that millions voted illegally, according to reports. He was criticised by Democrats and some Republicans.

But Spicer insisted: “As I said, I think the president has believed that for a while based on studies and information he has.”

Pressed further, Spicer said it was “a longstanding belief” of Trump’s. “This isn’t the first time you’ve heard this concern of his. I think there have been studies. There was one that came out in 2008 that showed 14% of people who had voted were non-citizens. There are other studies that have been presented to him. It’s a belief that he maintains.”

The press secretary appeared to be referring to a Washington Post article by the political scientists Jesse Richman and David Earnest which, drawing on the Cooperative Congressional Election Study, argued that more than 14% of non-citizens in 2008 and 2010 samples indicated that they were registered to vote.

The Washington Post’s website now prefaces the article with three rebuttals, a response from the authors defending their work, and a peer-reviewed article contending that the findings “were biased and that the authors’ data do not provide evidence of non-citizen voting in US elections”.

When pressed about whether Trump would call for an investigation into what a reporter said would be the biggest scandal in American electoral history, Spicer said: “Maybe we will.” He later added: “Anything is possible. It’s a hypothetical question.”

Trump’s tweets followed the next morning.

Asked what it meant for democracy, Spicer was evasive and replied only: “It means I’ve answered your question.”

Weeks after the election, Trump insisted in a tweet that he had won the popular vote “if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally”.

Fact-checking websites and newspapers traced the claim to a two-week-old “random tweet” by a former Republican party official in Texas. Gregg Phillips claimed on 12 November to have found “more than three million votes cast by non-citizens” – but he too failed to provide evidence.

The topic was one Trump long harped on throughout the campaign with claims that the election was “rigged”.

In October, he insisted at a Wisconsin rally: “People who died 10 years ago are still voting.” Trump specifically claimed 1.8 million dead people would vote – and for “somebody else”.

This appeared to be a reference to a 2012 study that found up to 1.8 million active voter registrations from deceased voters. That specific study did not provide any evidence of voter fraud or any ballots cast by the deceased. Instead, it simply illustrated that some state voter databases were out of date.

Trump had also long specifically warned of voter fraud in minority communities, specifically in Philadelphia, where Barack Obama won African American neighborhoods by overwhelming majorities in 2012.

In an October rally in exurban central Pennsylvania, Trump warned the almost entirely white crowd: “Watch your polling booths, because I hear too many stories about Pennsylvania, certain areas. We can’t lose an election because – you know what I am talking about.”

There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud. Research over the last 16 years has found voter fraud to be extremely uncommon, and 2016 appeared to follow that pattern. ProPublica election monitors saw no evidence of widespread illegal voting.

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