In a pre-Super Bowl interview that aired on Sunday, President Donald Trump told Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly that he would establish a commission led by Vice President Mike Pence to investigate allegations of widespread voter fraud.
“We’re going to look at it very, very carefully,” said Trump.
There is, of course, no widespread voter fraud, and multiple independent observers have debunked Trump’s claims to the contrary. But the president has spent weeks repeating the false claim that undocumented immigrants cast three to five million votes against him — a lie that seems intended to explain away his loss of the popular vote by more than two million ballots cast.
In response to questioning about the “voter fraud” lie, White House press secretary Sean Spicer indicated in late January that the Trump administration would pursue an investigation into it. Not long after, Pence privately told Republican members of Congress that there would be “a full evaluation of voting rolls in this country.” Trump seemed poised to sign an executive order mandating some kind of inquiry.
But then the administration seemed to let it slide. By the end of Trump’s second week in office, the administration had quietly backed down, with one anonymous staffer telling CNN that voter fraud was no longer a “priority.”
But judging by Trump’s interview with Bill O’Reilly, “voter fraud” — likely a thin pretext to implement voter suppression tactics on the federal level — is once again a priority.
Shortly before announcing the Pence-led commission, Trump dug in on his false allegations of voter fraud and insisted he had been vindicated by, well, “many people.”
“Many people have come out and said I am right,” the president told O’Reilly. He offered no additional support to his claims.
Earlier Sunday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said that he didn’t think federal funds should be spent on a voter fraud investigation.
“This sort of thing is handled at the state level, and the Democrats always claim there’s no election fraud at all. That is, of course, not true — election fraud does occur,” he told CNN’s Jake Tapper. “There’s no evidence that it occurred in such a significant number that would have changed the presidential election, and I don’t think we ought to spend any federal money investigating that,” the Kentucky Republican said.
Of course, it will be difficult for a commission headed by the vice president to conduct any business without dipping into the federal coffers.