A tweet by the president-elect has caused a storm of angry responses from various parties who claim it is a lie.
Trump tweeted, “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.”
The allegation of voter fraud has not been substantiated by anyone, and there is no evidence it is true. Trump resumed his tweeting after a call for a recount in three states was made by Jill Stein of the Green Party with the Clinton campaign joining in. Wisconsin is the first state to hold the recount, and Trump has called it a “scam.”
His explosive comment may cause a universal recount. If indeed the popular vote win for Clinton was fraudulent, he could demand a recount of all votes nationally. However, his spokesman Kellyanne Conway said on CNN’s State of the Union that prosecution of Clinton would not be “ruled out” if the recount proceeds. Trump had said since his victory that Clinton would not be prosecuted as he had threatened during the campaign.
Conway said, “I think he’s being quite magnanimous and at the same time he’s not undercutting at all the authority and the autonomy of the Department of Justice, of the FBI, of the House Committees, who know where the evidence may lead if, in fact, it were – if the investigation were re-opened somewhere . . .at a time for whatever reason her folks are saying they will join in a recount to try to somehow undo the 70 plus electoral votes that he beat her by.”
That Trump lost the popular vote by 2.2 million votes is unchallenged except by the president-elect himself.
Reactions were various. Dan Rather asked, “Could someone who has Donald Trump’s ear please take away his phone and tell him he has a very big job to do that requires paying attention to reality? There are no training wheels for president. You go from a common citizen to the most powerful person on the planet, and it’s not a joke…war and peace, justice, and the economy. Even now with the looming catastrophe of climate change. All are in the hands of the president. But here we have Donald Trump who will soon be sitting behind the desk of the Oval Office tasked with decisions that will shape millions of lives and our world, tweeting lies – lies – about illegal votes.” He noted that Richard Nixon was also petty, “but I can’t think of anyone else who was so obsessed with apparent slights and minutiae.”
A similar reaction came from George Takei: “Trump claims he had won the popular vote but for millions of illegal votes. This is garbage, yes, but hey, let’s audit all the votes then.”
Josh Ernest, White House spokesman agreed. “There is no evidence produced to substantiate a claim like that.”
The Clinton campaign, meanwhile, has received numerous communications from people asking it to investigate possible irregularities in the election, especially the three states with close votes: Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Conway derided the recount effort, claiming it would be a waste of time and money. But the fact that a spokesman for the president-elect uses a subtle threat to prosecute an opponent doing a perfectly legal and responsible recheck of the results is unsettling.