Trump claims his favorite conspiracy theory is ‘not a conspiracy theory’

It's a conspiracy theory.

CREDIT: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images
CREDIT: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

During a roundtable event in West Virginia purportedly about tax cuts on Thursday, President Trump claimed that “millions and millions” of illegal votes are routinely cast in American elections.

“In many places, like California, the same person votes many times,” Trump said. “They always like to say, ‘Oh, that’s a conspiracy theory.’ Not a conspiracy theory, folks. Millions and millions of people.”

Trump’s claim about voter fraud is as baseless now as when he first made it shortly after the 2016 election, when he claimed that illegal votes cost him the popular vote.

The conspiracy theory doesn’t withstand the least bit of scrutiny. During a recent federal trial, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) — a Trump ally who has claimed that academic studies back up his claims about illegal voting — struggled to defend a law requiring documentary proof of citizenship from residents that he argued is necessary because of the threat of non-citizens casting ballots.

During testimony, expert witnesses who Kobach has previously relied upon to corroborate his claims couldn’t cite a single instance in which illegal votes swung an election, and admitted that studies indicating otherwise haven’t been peer reviewed and rely on small sample sizes.

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Before it was embraced by Trump, the claim that millions of illegal votes were cast during the 2016 election was popularized by InfoWars, a site that has spread conspiracy theories about mass shootings and pedophilia rings. InfoWars sourced the claim to a “report” on VoteFraud.org that made baseless claims about “more than three million votes cast by non-citizens” without providing any evidence in support.

Last summer, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway was pressed about Trump’s voter fraud lie during a CNN interview. She defended the president by saying he “doesn’t think he’s lying about those issues, and you know it” — as if the mere fact that Trump believes the conspiracy theory is true makes it true.