Monday was supposed to be about getting back to work for the president-elect, but before US President-elect, Donald Trump could start reviewing his next appointments, he was immersed in a controversy of his own making on Sunday, charging that the election he won had been marred by fraud.
In a Twitter rant that grew more specific even as it left facts far behind, Mr. Trump first said his popular vote deficit — 2.24 million and climbing — would be reversed if not for three million votes by illegal immigrants, a charge that seemed to emerge from baseless partisan “fake news.”
On Sunday night he went further, focusing his wrath on three states he lost.
The response, from Democrats and Republicans, has not been kind. And many say his allegations are only bolstering Democratic calls for a thorough auditing of the voting results.
Democrats and the Green Party presidential nominee, Jill Stein, must decide in the coming days whether to file for a recount in Michigan and possibly pursue legal action over the vote in Pennsylvania.
Election officials, leading Democrats — and even a prominent Republican — blasted President-elect Donald Trump after he spread allegations of voter fraud and targeted a trio of states with his false claim.
Trump first alleged Sunday that “millions” of undocumented immigrants voted against him and later directed the inaccurate charges at California, Virginia and New Hampshire. Neither Trump nor his transition team have responded to requests to explain what he meant or provide any evidence.
“Serious voter fraud in Virginia, New Hampshire and California – so why isn’t the media reporting on this? Serious bias – big problem!” Trump tweeted.
Tom Rath, the former attorney general of New Hampshire and a longtime kingmaker in the state’s Republican politics, knocked Trump Sunday evening.
“This will probably cost me my spot in the Cabinet but there was no fraud, serious or other, in this election in NH. There just wasn’t,” Rath tweeted.
This will probably cost me my spot in the Cabinet but there was no fraud, serious or other, in this election in NH. There just wasn’t.
— Tom Rath (@polguru) November 28, 2016
And California Secretary of State Alex Padilla hit back at Trump, tweeting that his “unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud in California and elsewhere are absurd.”
— Alex Padilla (@AlexPadilla4CA) November 28, 2016
Virginia Commissioner of Elections Edgardo Cortés said, “The claims of voter fraud in Virginia during the November 8 election are unfounded … The election was fair and all votes cast by eligible voters were accurately counted.”
California Rep. Adam Schiff, a Democrat, tweeted: “President-elect Trump’s claim that he would have won popular vote but for fraud is as baseless as it is demeaning. #ActLikeAPresident”
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) November 27, 2016
And former Maryland governor and Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley said Trump should focus instead on restoring the Voting Rights Act and ending voter suppression.
“Hey @realDonaldTrump – The real issues with voter fraud are discriminatory Voter ID laws and illegal vote suppression tactics #RestoreTheVRA,” O’Malley wrote.
— Martin O’Malley (@MartinOMalley) November 28, 2016
It was still unclear Monday why Trump was alleging voter fraud in the election he won, while Green Party officials were seeking a recount based on questions of whether voter fraud helped him win.
Marc Elias, the Clinton campaign’s former counsel, pointed out the irony of Trump blasting alleged voter fraud but opposing any investigation of the election results.
“We are getting attacked for participating in a recount that we didn’t ask for by the man who won election but thinks there was massive fraud,” Elias tweeted Sunday night.
We are getting attacked for participating in a recount that we didn’t ask for by the man who won election but thinks there was massive fraud
— Marc E. Elias (@marceelias) November 28, 2016
The first claim of massive vote fraud was apparently made by Gregg Phillips, of True the Vote, who tweeted a few days after the election that the number of “non-citizen” voters topped 3 million. His baseless allegation was later picked up by some fringe media outlets.
Completed analysis of database of 180 million voter registrations.
Number of non-citizen votes exceeds 3 million.
Consulting legal team.
— Gregg Phillips (@JumpVote) November 11, 2016
Rep. Chris Collins, a New York Republican who will be one of Trump’s key point men in Congress, said he did not know if there were “millions” of people who voted illegally, but said he would rather Trump and the Green Party both “move on” from the recount.
“He is the president-elect and it is time to move forward,” Collins said on CNN’s “New Day.” “It’s time to move on. And it’s time to end the discussion of recounts and, again, hopefully we can strengthen voter ID laws.”
Sen. James Lankford, an Oklahoma Republican, also said there may be evidence of some voter fraud, but nothing close to the “millions” of voters Trump is claiming.
“I have not seen anything in the millions, I don’t know what he was talking about,” Lankford told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota.