President Trump believes millions voted illegally, says White House

Updated - January 25, 2017 09:20 am IST

Published - January 25, 2017 09:19 am IST - Washington

U.S. President Donald Trump.

U.S. President Donald Trump.

U.S. President Donald Trump believes that millions of people illegally voted in the November election that he won, the White House said on Tuesday, putting an official stamp on an allegation that he made publicly before assuming office.

Mr. Trump repeated the claim at a closed door meeting with Congressional leaders on Monday evening.

The President has said that he lost the popular vote only because of fraudulent voting by “millions.”

"The President does believe that, I think he's stated that before, and stated his concern of voter fraud and people voting illegally during the campaign and continues to maintain that belief based on studies and evidence people have brought to him," press secretary Sean Spicer said, when asked for a response on leaked reports about Mr. Trump’s conversation with Congressional leaders from both parties.

Mr. Trump won the presidency by winning the Electoral College vote while losing the popular vote by three million to Hillary Clinton. Mr. Trump is the fifth President in the history of the country to not a win a popular vote.

"In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally," he tweeted in November as it became clear that Ms. Clinton had beaten him in the popular vote.

As the White House statement grew into a controversy, it left little scope for any debate on the barrage of executive decisions that Mr. Trump continued to make on Tuesday.

Among other decisions, Mr. Trump set the ball moving to restart construction on Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines, projects that former President Barack Obama had stopped owing to increasing environmental concerns and people’s protests.

“President Trump today issued executive orders to advance construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, pitting hardworking Americans against our climate and the protection of tribal lands,” Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren said.

"The Obama Administration rejected the Keystone XL Pipeline in part because it would ‘undermine our ability to continue leading the world in combatting climate change.' And just last week, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers took steps to prepare a new Environmental Impact Statement for the Dakota pipeline with ‘full public input and analysis.' The impact of these pipelines on our environment, and on the communities they cut through, did not change when President Obama left office. President Trump's announcement today moves us in the wrong direction for our environment and our economy," she said.

The Republicans cheered the President for going ahead with the projects. The President is expected to sign more executive orders on Wednesday, this round on immigration, visas and screening of visitors. The President is also expected to lay the groundwork for a border wall as promised during the campaign.

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