Trump calls for ‘voter fraud’ probe

Depending on investigation results, ‘we will strengthen’ election procedures, says U.S. President

January 25, 2017 10:03 pm | Updated November 28, 2021 10:02 pm IST - WASHINGTON:

Standing up:  People in Mexico City protesting next to a fake wall in the run-up to the inauguration of President Donald Trump last week.

Standing up: People in Mexico City protesting next to a fake wall in the run-up to the inauguration of President Donald Trump last week.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he would order an investigation into “voter fraud”, calling into question the integrity of the November election that he won. On Tuesday, the White House had said the President believed people illegally voted, and cited dubious studies in support of the claim.

Adding fuel to the fire set off by the White House press secretary, Mr. Trump tweeted from his personal account: “I will be asking for a major investigation into VOTER FRAUD, including those registered to vote in two states, those who are illegal and even those registered to vote who are dead (and many for a long time). Depending on results, we will strengthen up voting procedures.”

The President has said he lost the popular vote only because of fraudulent voting by “millions”. Republican politicians have consistently kept the allegation of massive fraudulent voting alive for years without any proof, but this is probably the first time that a President lent the weight of his office behind it. Many Republican-administered States have imposed tough documentation requirements that make voting disproportionately difficult for African Americans and other minorities in recent years.

“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 on Tuesday.

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 to win the 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.

Pew study

Mr. Spicer said there have been studies that supported the President’s claim. “I think there have been studies; there was one that came out of Pew in 2008 that showed 14% of people who have voted were not citizens. There are other studies that were presented to him.”

The 2012 Pew study looked at issues of inaccurate voter registrations because of people shifting places or death, and did not report any voter fraud, its lead author said on twitter. He had said it earlier that his study was being misinterpreted by Mr. Trump. “I'm aware of no Pew report, including the ones I wrote when I was there, which support any findings of voter fraud,” David Becker tweeted, tagging the press secretary on Tuesday. Scholars have questioned the veracity of another study that claimed voter fraud.

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 the 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 hard-working 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 combating 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, however, cheered the President for going ahead with the projects.

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