Trump claims millions voted illegally

Ros Krasny
Bloomberg News

West Palm Beach, Fla. — President-elect Donald Trump claimed without providing evidence that he won the popular vote in the Nov. 8 election if “millions” of illegal votes are 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 told his 16 million Twitter followers on Sunday.

Trump offered nothing to back up a suggestion of massive electoral fraud — one that returned to his regular pre-election mantra of a “rigged” result. Democrat Hillary Clinton is leading Trump by more than 2.2 million 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.

Cook shows Clinton with 64.65 million total votes to Trump’s 62.42 million, or a lead of 48.2 percent to 46.5 percent. Third party and other candidates received 7.19 million votes, or about 5.4 percent. In 13 swing states Trump won 48.4 percent of the vote to Clinton’s 46.6 percent.

The Republican Trump won 306 electoral votes to Clinton’s 232.

Earlier Sunday, Trump criticized recounts proposed for Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania that 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 Nov. 9. “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 will return to New York late on 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 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 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 Nov. 8 election.

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.