On Monday evening, The New York Times called President Donald Trump’s claim that “millions of unauthorized immigrants had robbed him of a popular vote majority” a lie, reviving several 2016 stories that had already proven the President’s estimates wrong.
On Tuesday afternoon, when asked about Trump’s latest remarks, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said that the President does believe this claim, even though Spicer could not offer any specific evidence.
REPORTER: Does the President believe that millions voted illegally in this election and what evidence do you have of widespread voter fraud in this election, if that’s the case?
SPICER: The President does believe that. 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 to him.
When pressed for specific evidence, Spicer said, “I think the President has believed that for a while, based on studies and evidence and information he has.”
Later in the briefing, Spicer said that the White House would not call for an investigation because President Trump won the electoral vote.
Spicer then referred to a 2008 Pew Research study as his sole reference, but that report had nothing to do with voter fraud or with non-citizens voting. It was about upgrading voter registration systems, and FactCheck.org has already analyzed and debunked Trump’s claims. But if one looks at one of the controversial reports Trump has cited in the past, here is what he basing his conclusion on, which includes a significantly small sample:
Our data comes from the Cooperative Congressional Election Study (CCES). Its large number of observations (32,800 in 2008 and 55,400 in 2010) provide sufficient samples of the non-immigrant sub-population, with 339 non-citizen respondents in 2008 and 489 in 2010. For the 2008 CCES, we also attempted to match respondents to voter files so that we could verify whether they actually voted.
How many non-citizens participate in U.S. elections? More than 14 percent of non-citizens in both the 2008 and 2010 samples indicated that they were registered to vote. Furthermore, some of these non-citizens voted. Our best guess, based upon extrapolations from the portion of the sample with a verified vote, is that 6.4 percent of non-citizens voted in 2008 and 2.2 percent of non-citizens voted in 2010.
The math listed, even if it were correct (and it is very likely not), would no way be near the millions Trump claims.
California has consistently been cited as a state by Trump and his supporters that allows for the undocumented population to vote (for the record, it does not), and after Spicer’s newest comments, Secretary of State Alex Padilla issued the following statement on Tuesday afternoon:
“By repeating false and unsubstantiated voter fraud allegations as the cause for losing the popular vote, President Trump is dangerously attacking the legitimacy of free and fair elections and taking a jackhammer to the foundation of our democracy. These are not ‘alternative facts.’ They are corrosive lies without any evidence. Even leaders in the President’s own party agree there is no evidence to support his claims since they were irresponsibly made back in November. Rather than continue to deliberately deceive the American people about his nearly 3 million popular vote loss, the President should focus on addressing the substantiated threats reported by our intelligence community.”
When asked to respond to Trump’s claim, House Speaker Paul Ryan said this a Tuesday press conference: “I’ve seen no evidence to that effect. I’ve made that very, very clear.”