Democracy Dies in Darkness

Post Politics

Without evidence, Trump tells lawmakers 3 million to 5 million illegal ballots cost him the popular vote

By Abby Phillip, Mike DeBonis

January 23, 2017 at 8:05 PM

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President Trump met with congressional leaders on Capitol Hill after meeting with business and union leaders at the White House. (Reuters)

Days after being sworn in, President Trump insisted to congressional leaders invited to a reception at the White House that he would have won the popular vote had it not been for millions of illegal votes, according to people familiar with the meeting.

Trump has repeatedly claimed, without evidence, that widespread voter fraud caused him to lose the popular vote to Hillary Clinton, even while he clinched the presidency with an electoral college victory.

Two people familiar with the meeting said Trump spent about 10 minutes at the start of the bipartisan gathering rehashing the campaign. He also told them that between 3 million and 5 million illegal votes caused him to lose the popular vote.

The discussion about Trump's election victory and his claim that he would have won the popular vote was confirmed by a third person familiar with the meeting.

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The Washington Post's Paul Kane speaks to Libby Casey about President-elect Donald Trump's unfounded claim that millions of people voted illegally for Hillary Clinton. (The Washington Post)

The claim is not supported by any verifiable facts, and analyses of the election found virtually no confirmed cases of voter fraud, let alone millions.

Clinton won the popular vote by more than 2.8 million votes. Trump won 304 electoral college votes to Clinton's 227.

Related: [What exactly can Trump do? Find out on The Post's new podcast.]

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) alluded to Trump's comments as he returned to the Capitol from the meeting Monday night.

"We talked about different electoral college, popular votes, going through the different ones," McCarthy said. "Well, we talked about going back through past elections. Everyone in there goes through elections and stuff, so everybody's giving their different histories of different parts."

Asked by reporters after the meeting if Trump made any surprising statements at the gathering, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) replied, "Well, I won't even go into that."

Read more: 

Kellyanne Conway says Donald Trump's team has 'alternative facts'

The first days inside Trump's White House: Fury, tumult and a reboot

Trump takes aim at federal workers, trade deals as he settles into White House


Abby Phillip is a national political reporter covering the White House for The Washington Post.

Mike DeBonis covers Congress and national politics for The Washington Post. He previously covered D.C. politics and government from 2007 to 2015.

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