At Tuesday’s White House press conference, questions advanced from the administration’s lie about inauguration turnout to President Trump’s false claim that 3–5 million people voted illegally, which he reiterated in a meeting with congressional leaders on Monday.
Press Secretary Sean Spicer defended Trump for maintaining this belief, dismissing questions about its truthfulness.
“The president does believe that. He has stated that before,” Spicer responded. “I think he has 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 first have presented to him.”
It was pointed out to Spicer that House Speaker Paul Ryan (R), who had been in the meeting with Trump, said earlier on Tuesday that he knew of “no evidence” to support the claim of massive voter fraud. Additional questions pressed Spicer as to what “studies and evidence” Trump was relying on.
Spicer cited a single Pew report that he claims showed that in 2008, 14 percent of people who voted were non-citizens. “There’s other studies that have been presented to him. It’s a belief he maintains.”
The Trump transition team cited the same study back in the fall to defend this claim, and it was thoroughly debunked, including by the researcher who conducted the study.
We found millions of out of date registration records due to people moving or dying, but found no evidence that voter fraud resulted.
— David Becker (@beckerdavidj) November 28, 2016
Spicer was then asked whether, if Trump believes there was such widespread voter fraud, he would launch an investigation.
“Maybe we will,” he replied. “But right now the focus that the President has is putting Americans back to work.”
Though he was dismissive of follow-up questions about the implications of such allegedly widespread voter fraud, Spicer did assure reporters that Trump is “comfortable” with his win and simply made the comment “in passing.”
In 2016, there were only four documented cases of voter fraud, but the myth of a bigger problem is spurring more states to pass laws making it harder for people to vote. Such laws generally suppress the vote of racial minorities, often benefiting Republicans in elections.