On November 9 at around 8.30 AM., Michal Kosinski woke up in the Hotel Sunnehus in Zurich. The 34-year-old researcher had come to give a lecture at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) about the dangers of Big Data and the digital revolution. Kosinski gives regular lectures on this topic all over the world. He is a leading expert in psychometrics, a data-driven sub-branch of psychology. When he turned on the TV that morning, he saw that the bombshell had exploded: contrary to forecasts by all leading statisticians, Donald J. Trump had been elected president of the United States. For a long time, Kosinski watched the Trump victory celebrations and the results coming in from each state. He had a hunch that the outcome of the election might have something to do with his research. Finally, he took a deep breath and turned off the TV. On the same day, a then little-known British company based in London sent out a press release: “We are thrilled that our revolutionary approach to data-driven communication has played such an integral part in President-elect Trump’s extraordinary win,” Alexander James Ashburner Nix was quoted as saying. Nix is British, 41 years old, and CEO of Cambridge Analytica. He is always immaculately turned out in tailor-made suits and designer glasses, with his wavy blonde hair combed back from his forehead. His company wasn’t just integral to Trump’s online campaign, but to the UK’s Brexit campaign as well. Of these three players—reflective Kosinski, carefully groomed Nix and grinning Trump—one of them enabled the digital revolution, one of them executed it and one of them benefited from it.
Did 3 million people vote illegally in the 2016 election? There’s no evidence that’s true, but President Trump certainly believes so, making news his first week in the White House by ordering an investigation into that allegation. Even if only partly substantiated, it would probably be the single largest instance of voter fraud in American history. The source for Trump’s convictions seems to be a Twitter account run by Texan businessman and former public official Gregg Phillips, the founder of VoteStand, a mobile app designed to allow users to report incidents of voter fraud. Using data from conservative nonprofit True the Vote, Phillips claimed that he identified millions of illegal votes. Those claims went viral when published, were amplified by the conspiracy-theory website InfoWars, and ultimately reached the president himself. But those data have not yet been released, and questions about the credibility of their purveyor and his methods and claims abound. Even Phillips himself is now backing off the original 3 million number that sparked the president’s demand for an investigation, explaining that he needs more time before he’s willing to provide final numbers or release his raw data. “Over a hundred million people voted. Impacting a presidential election is probably less likely than impacting anything down-ballot,” Phillips said. “I’m not gonna be goaded into going faster than I want to. I’m not a government official, I don’t have protections, and if I accuse somebody of voter fraud, we have to be sure that what we’re saying is right. While I believe I’m right, it’s in my best interest and everybody else’s best interest to make sure this is right.”
National: Trump’s voter fraud unicorn could pose grave threat to voting rights | Philadelphia Tribune
Of the many conspiracy theories presented by President Donald Trump last week, none carried as much gravity as his crusade on voter fraud. “I will be asking for a major investigation into VOTER FRAUD,” he posted on Twitter earlier in the week, “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!” How those “voting procedures” would be strengthened remained unclear. Yet, the hint of an exhaustive federal investigation into voter fraud rattled civil rights leaders who are already bracing for a wholesale rollback of key provisions in the Voting Rights Act.
National: The tale of a Trump falsehood: How his voter fraud claim spread like a virus | The Washington Post
The falsehood took root a week ago, when President Trump claimed in a private Jan. 23 meeting with top congressional leaders that between 3 million and 5 million undocumented immigrants illegally voted in November’s election. From there, the infection spread, strengthened with faulty evidence and scattered anecdotes: A congressman offered his own estimate of 2.4 million illegally registered voters. The White House press secretary misrepresented the findings of a study and suggested, with no evidence, that fraud happens in “big states, very populous states and urban areas.” Other Republicans pointed to an investigation of a small batch of voter registrations in Virginia, convictions for vote-buying in local races in Kentucky and a false statistic about voter turnout in Pennsylvania being suspiciously high in 2012. Within days, the stray comment at a reception — a variation on a false claim Trump had been making for months — led to the president’s call for an investigation, plans for an executive order and a promise from Vice President Pence to Republicans that the administration would “initiate a full evaluation of voting rolls.”
A man who President Donald Trump has promoted as an authority on voter fraud was registered to vote in multiple states during the 2016 presidential election, the Associated Press has learned. Gregg Phillips, whose unsubstantiated claim that the election was marred by 3 million illegal votes was tweeted by the president, was listed on the rolls in Alabama, Texas and Mississippi, according to voting records and election officials in those states. He voted only in Alabama in November, records show. In a post earlier this month, Phillips described “an amazing effort” by volunteers tied to True the Vote, an organization whose board he sits on, who he said found “thousands of duplicate records and registrations of dead people.” Trump has made an issue of people who are registered to vote in more than one state, using it as one of the bedrocks of his overall contention that voter fraud is rampant in the U.S. and that voting by 3 to 5 million immigrants illegally in the country cost him the popular vote in November. The AP found that Phillips was registered in Alabama and Texas under the name Gregg Allen Phillips, with the identical Social Security number. Mississippi records list him under the name Gregg A. Phillips, and that record includes the final four digits of Phillips’ Social Security number, his correct date of birth and a prior address matching one once attached to Gregg Allen Phillips. He has lived in all three states.
To support his call for a sweeping federal inquiry into his claims of vast voting fraud, President Trump turned on Friday to a little-known conservative activist whose work on the issue has been widely discredited and who has trafficked in conspiracy theories. “Gregg Phillips and crew say at least 3,000,000 votes were illegal,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter, a reference to a claim by Mr. Phillips, who helped create an app to report voter fraud, that he had “verified” such irregularities. With those words, Mr. Trump bestowed the imprimatur of the presidency on new ground: the feverish online fringes of American politics. In elevating Mr. Phillips, who last month on Twitter cited “spook friends” to claim that “the Israelis impersonated the Russians” and interfered in the American election, Mr. Trump returned to a familiar pattern. After a campaign in which he gave voice to outlandish falsehoods, including claims that Justice Antonin Scalia was suffocated by a pillow and Senator Ted Cruz’s father had a connection to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Mr. Trump has not left his penchant for conspiracy-mongering at the White House door.
National: Republicans in Congress don’t want anything to do with Trump’s voter-fraud probe | The Washington Post
If President Trump is waiting for the Republican Congress to join him in his quixotic quest to launch the first investigation in American history that will uncover systematic voter fraud — well, he may be waiting a while. ABC reported Wednesday that Trump would like Congress’s help as he launches a “major” investigation to find the 3 million to 5 million votes he claims were cast illegally. For a variety of political and logistical reasons — but mostly political — Congress will almost definitely not have Trump’s back. “We haven’t been discussing that,” House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) said in an interview Wednesday with MSNBC’s Greta Van Susteren when asked whether Congress would join in. “The president has 100,000 people at the Department of Justice, and if he wants to have an investigation, have at it,” Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chairman of one of the top House investigative committees, told CNN.
National: Russian Charged With Treason Worked in Office Linked to Election Hacking | The New York Times
The authorities in Moscow are prosecuting at least one cybersecurity expert for treason, a prominent Russian criminal defense lawyer confirmed on Friday, while a Russian newspaper reported that the case is linked to hacking during the United States presidential election. While surely touching a nerve in American politics, the developments in Moscow left a still muddled picture of what, exactly, a series of arrests by the security services here signifies. But the virtually simultaneous appearance of at least four prominent news reports on the hacking and several related arrests, citing numerous anonymous sources, suggests that the normally opaque Russian government intends to reveal more information about the matter, though it is unclear why.
National: Have Russians arrested a source in U.S. probe of election meddling? | The Charlotte Observer
With mystery surrounding the recent arrests in Moscow of several high-level Russian cybersecurity figures, speculation mounted Friday that one of the men may have been an informant who provided crucial information to the United States about Russian meddling in the U.S. election campaign. The speculation came from two former employees of the National Security Agency, which intercepts, deciphers and analyzes the world’s electronic communications. News of the arrests filtered out in reports beginning Wednesday and it has shaken the insular world of cybersecurity, espionage and cybercrime. Among those arrested for suspected treason was Sergei Mikhailov, deputy chief of the cyber intelligence department of the FSB, Russia’s main security agency. The Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta said Mikhailov had been detained in December, and led away with a sack over his head from FSB headquarters in Moscow.
National: Republican redistricting is taking a beating in the courts, right now | The Washington Post
Recent court decisions in three states are putting carefully carved Republican-drawn state legislative districts at risk — and could even threaten the entire process of partisan map drawing. On Friday, a federal court ordered Wisconsin legislatures to redraw their state House legislative districts after finding in November that the districts were unconstitutionally partisan. The order will essentially require lawmakers to redraw state Senate maps as well. The November decision was the first time this decade that a court has thrown out legislative maps because they favored voters of one party over another. Subsequently, this will be the first time in a decade that lawmakers will have to redraw maps specifically to make them more fair for both parties. Thirty-seven states allow their legislatures to draw their electoral maps, and what these lawmakers have come up with has had a profound effect on U.S. politics. After capturing 21 chambers in the 2010 elections, Republicans redrew nearly half of all congressional districts — four times as many as Democrats.
President Donald Trump has put himself in a vexing position with his promise of a “major” voter fraud investigation, with little chance of proving his unsubstantiated claim that millions voted illegally in November and a high probability the effort will be panned as a fruitless political exercise. If Trump tries to kick-start an aggressive criminal investigation, he is sure to fuel charges he is politicizing the Justice Department. If instead he chooses a more modest, blue ribbon panel-style inquiry, Trump is likely to have trouble attracting prominent Democrats who could give the effort more legitimacy. Former Justice Department officials warned Wednesday that conducting a presidentially directed, wide-scale probe into election fraud would put top lawyers there in the uncomfortable position of having to pass judgment on a claim repeatedly leveled by Trump, but lacking in evidence: that 3 million to 5 million people voted illegally in the election that delivered him to the White House. “If you do launch an investigation like this, prosecutors would be under enormous pressure not to find that the president was wrong. What if the report is inconclusive?” said Matthew Miller, a Justice Department spokesman under Attorney General Eric Holder. “Voter fraud is a crime, and DOJ usually begins investigations when they find evidence a crime was committed, not because the president has endorsed a conspiracy theory for which there is no evidence. Now, we’re in a position where DOJ has to launch an investigation into a supposed crime just because the president is making up facts?”
President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he would seek an investigation into what he believes was voter fraud in last November’s election, despite an overwhelming consensus among state officials, election experts, and politicians that it is rare in the United States. The announcement drew rebukes from both Republicans and Democrats who said the Republican president’s unsubstantiated claims of large-scale fraud could undermine voting rights efforts as well as confidence in the new U.S. chief executive. In the Nov. 8 election, Trump lost the popular vote to Democrat Hillary Clinton by nearly 3 million ballots. Irked by that large figure, he has blamed voter fraud without citing evidence. “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),” Trump said on Twitter. “Depending on results, we will strengthen up voting procedures!” In an interview with ABC News, Trump said none of the illegal votes would have been cast for him. “They would all be for the other side,” he said. White House press secretary Sean Spicer later told a news briefing that the probe would not focus on only the 2016 election.
National: Congressional investigations into alleged Russian hacking begin without end in sight | The Washington Post
Less than a week into Donald Trump’s presidency, both chambers of Congress have launched probes into alleged hacking by Russia that spy chiefs believe was designed to help him win. The moves could deepen the rift between the new president and the intelligence community — which has said that Russia intervened in the U.S. election with the goal of helping to elect Trump. It could also eventually drive a wedge between Trump and the Republican Congress, depending on the information that is uncovered and how aggressively lawmakers move to follow it. The Senate Intelligence Committee, which is in charge of the Senate’s investigation, kicked off its probe Tuesday with a meeting to establish the scope of its inquiries. Lawmakers have pledged to look “everywhere the intelligence tells us to go” in investigating Russia’s activities in the 2016 elections, said the committee’s chairman, Richard Burr (R-N.C.) — even if that includes links between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.
The White House said that President Donald Trump would sign an executive action to begin an investigation into voter fraud on Friday or Saturday, postponing a move that had been expected on Thursday. According to a pool report, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters late Thursday afternoon that Trump returned “a little late” from the Republican leadership retreat in Philadelphia and “got jammed up on some meetings that needed to occur,” prompting the delay. Earlier in the day, Spicer had said that Trump planned to sign the action around 4:30 p.m. The question of voter fraud has been in the news for most of the week. Trump took to Twitter on Wednesday to call for a “major” probe into voter fraud and irregularities in the voter rolls, two days after he repeated his false claim that he lost the popular vote because millions of people voted illegally for Hillary Clinton in November.
National: It turns out Jared Kushner and Sean Spicer are also registered to vote in two states | The Washington Post
Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and one of his closest White House advisers, is registered to vote in both New Jersey and New York, while White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer is on the rolls both in Virginia and his home state of Rhode Island, according to elections officials and voting registration records. Their dual registrations offer two more high-profile examples of how common it is for voters to be on the rolls in multiple states — something Trump has claimed is evidence of voter fraud. With Kushner and Spicer, The Washington Post has now identified five Trump family members or top administration appointees who were registered in two states during the fall election. The others are chief White House strategist Stephen K. Bannon; Tiffany Trump, the president’s youngest daughter; and Treasury Secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin, as first reported by CNN. White House officials did not respond to requests for comment.
Although voting systems have been designated “critical infrastructure” by the Department of Homeland Security on Jan. 6, the federal commission that helps state governments develop voting systems and administer elections is unsure of the implications of the new designation. U.S. Election Assistance Commission plans to sit down with officials from DHS on Feb. 2 to get a clearer understanding of that protection. The systems were designated as a subsector the of the existing Government Facilities critical infrastructure sector, one of DHS 15 sectors that also cover the energy, communications and chemical sectors. “We still don’t know what it means,” Thomas Hicks, chairman of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission told FCW after his presentation at a biometric technology security conference in Arlington, Va., on Jan 24. “We’re hoping to have a forum to ask DHS and the Trump administration what the designation means and does it go forward” under the new administration, Hicks said.
There isn’t any evidence to support President Trump’s assertion that three to five million illegal votes were cast in the 2016 presidential election. But there is one study that has been interpreted to suggest it is at least possible. It found that between 32,000 and 2.8 million noncitizen voters might have fraudulently cast ballots in the 2008 presidential election. The study, based on a survey of 38,000 people after that election, has been under fire since it was published in 2014. Now even its authors concede that it probably overstated the amount of noncitizen voting. “The high-end estimates are likely incorrect,” Jesse Richman, one of the co-authors of the study and a political science professor at Old Dominion University, said in an email exchange on Wednesday. In a post online, he also said that the findings do not support Mr. Trump’s contention that millions cast ballots illegally. Mr. Richman still maintains that some small percentage of noncitizens vote in American elections. But the debate over this study has moved on. It’s no longer about whether millions of illegal votes were cast, but whether there’s any evidence for noncitizen voting at all. The study’s bold claims fell apart because of something called response error: the possibility that people taking a survey don’t answer a question correctly — in this case, a question about being American citizens.
Vice-President Mike Pence said that the Trump administration will “initiate a full evaluation of voting rolls in the country and the overall integrity of our voting system in the wake of this past election”, according to audio obtained by the Guardian. Trump has pledged an investigation of voter fraud in the wake of his unfounded claims that between 3 million and 5 million fraudulent votes were cast in the 2016 election. In response to a question from Congressman Mo Brooks of Alabama, who described Trump as being “spot on” on the issue, Pence described the investigation that the administration is planning on undertaking. The vice-president, who focused on a Pew Research Center report often cited by Trump that referenced issues with faulty voter registrations, pledged to members of Congress: “We’ll be looking at ways to work with you and follow the facts and see where the facts go.” The White House is expected to release an executive order on voter fraud in the coming days. Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, described the effort to reporters on Wednesday as an attempt “to understand where the problem exists, how deep it goes”. Spicer indicated that potential fraud only happened in “the bigger states”.
If President Trump follows through on his call for an inquiry into unsubstantiated claims of massive voter fraud, the request would likely land on the desk of a man whose own history of pursuing such allegations continues to shadow his public record. Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, who is awaiting likely confirmation as Trump’s attorney general, was forced to defend himself earlier this month during Senate hearings on his nomination for the failed, racially charged prosecution of three black activists more than 30 years ago. In that case, Sessions, then the chief federal prosecutor in Mobile, Ala., charged Albert Turner Sr., his wife, Evelyn Turner, and Spencer Hogue with tampering with absentee ballots in a September 1984 primary election. All three were quickly acquitted in a case that raised the specter of voter intimidation and later helped sink Sessions’ previous bid for a federal judgeship.
The House of Representatives Intelligence Committee called on the Trump administration on Wednesday to provide them with what they expect will be thousands of documents related to the investigation of Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election. The request may be an effort to avoid a repeat of an unusual document access arrangement made between the Senate Intelligence Committee and CIA to review information related to enhanced interrogation techniques at secret overseas “black site” prisons during the George W. Bush administration.
National: EAC commissioner underscores importance of congressional support for election assistance | The Hill
While many inside the beltway are focused on the transition to a new administration and Congress, election officials across the country are already busy working to improve the accessibility and accuracy of the 2018 election. Their most trusted partner in that work is the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), an agency that is committed to working with States to provide Americans with voting systems that are secure, accurate and accessible.
President Donald Trump wants to potentially spend tens of millions of taxpayer dollars to examine a problem that’s been proven over and over not to exist: systemic voter fraud. Trump, in tweets Wednesday, announced that he’ll seek a “major investigation” into voter fraud, echoing his unsubstantiated claim that some 3 million to 5 million people voted illegally in November’s election, helping to propel Democrat Hillary Clinton to a big popular-vote advantage. The president’s fraud claim is emphatically rebuffed by the nation’s secretaries of states, who monitor elections, as well as reams of government and academic studies that say that occurrences of voter fraud are infinitesimal. “We are not aware of any evidence that supports the voter fraud claims made by President Trump,” the National Association of Secretaries of State said in a statement Tuesday. “In the lead-up to the November 2016 election, secretaries of state expressed their confidence in the systemic integrity of our election process as a bipartisan group, and they stand behind that statement today.” Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican, felt compelled to do a tweet of his own challenging Trump’s assertion. “We conducted a review 4 years ago in Ohio & already have a statewide review of 2016 election underway. Easy to vote, hard to cheat,” he tweeted. Apparently, even Trump’s lawyers don’t believe voter fraud was a problem in the 2016 election. His lawyers objected in a court filing to Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein’s Michigan recount petition last year, Business Insider reported Wednesday. “On what basis does Stein seek to disenfranchise Michigan citizens?” the filing said. “None really, save for speculation. All available evidence suggests that the 2016 general election was not tainted by fraud or mistake.”
National: Voting rights advocates fear Trump’s unfounded fraud claims will lead to more restrictive laws | The Washington Post
President Trump’s plans to ask for a “major investigation” into allegations of widespread voter fraud were met with skepticism by both Democratic and Republican lawmakers — and fear from voting rights advocates that the president will use his unfounded claims to justify more-restrictive voting laws. It is unclear who will investigate Trump’s belief that he lost the popular vote in November’s election because millions of illegal votes were cast. The president could set up an independent commission or task force to look into the claims, which have already been disproved by many national studies. White House press secretary Sean Spicer said the president’s investigation would examine “the integrity of our voting system” and not just the 2016 election. The Justice Department, which investigates claims of election crimes, has not historically launched a criminal investigation at the request of a president. An attorney general could order an investigation, but Trump’s nominee, Sen. Jeff Sessions, has not yet been confirmed, and his spokeswoman declined to comment. Justice officials said they knew nothing about an investigation into voter fraud and referred questions to the White House.
“Then he’s groveling again. You know I always talk about the reporters that grovel when they want to write something that you want to hear but not necessarily millions of people want to hear or have to hear.” — President Trump, interview with ABC News, Jan. 25, 2017
For the first time since taking office, President Trump addressed the 2012 Pew Center on the States report that he and his staff have repeatedly — and unsuccessfully — used to support his claims of widespread voter fraud in the 2016 election. Trump once again referred to a 2012 Pew report as evidence of widespread voter fraud. When David Muir of ABC News noted the study’s author said he found no evidence of voter fraud, Trump said: “Excuse me, then why did he write the report?” Then Trump claimed the author was “groveling.” Really? The Facts No. David Becker, who directed the research for the Pew report, has said since the report’s release in February 2012 that there was no evidence of fraud from his findings. The report, instead, found problems with inaccurate voter registrations, people who registered in more than one state (which could happen if the voter moves and registers in the new state without telling the former state) and deceased voters whose information was still on the voter rolls. Trump did reference these other findings correctly in the interview — but then claimed these findings are evidence of fraud.
National: Trump’s voter fraud claims undermine the democratic process and his presidency | The Washington Post
There is no benign explanation for President Trump’s false assertion that millions of people voted illegally in the last election. It is either a deliberate attempt to undermine faith in the democratic process, an exhortation to those who favor new restrictions on access to the ballot box or the worrisome trait of someone with immense power willing to make wild statements without any credible evidence. By repeating as president what he had said as a candidate, for whatever purpose, Trump is striking at the foundation of a democratic society. This is yet another example of Trump being willing to cast doubt on information, individuals or institutions that he believes threaten his legitimacy, challenge his authority or question his actions — from attacks on “phony polls” or the “dishonest media” to assertions now of vast voter fraud. This is not a debate about the size of the crowd at last week’s presidential inauguration. That is a piddling controversy compared with his claim that the election system overseen by the states is somehow riddled with fraud. Trump is chipping away at a shared public confidence in a system that is fundamental to a representative government for no apparent reason other than that he’s bothered by the fact that, although duly elected and now in the White House, he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by almost 3 million votes.
Jesse Richman used to be one of those researchers who only dreamed his work might someday capture national attention—maybe even inspire some sort of systemic change. On Ratemyprofessor.com, his students describe him as tough but fair, a “genius” who was liberal with extra credit projects and went out of his way to offer help. In 2014, Richman’s world changed when he co-authored a paper on voter fraud that instantly caught fire. At first, he was energized by all the buzz and proud to get his work published. Now, he says, “there are days I wish I hadn’t.” That’s because his paper, “Do Non-Citizens Vote in US Elections?” which was published in the peer-reviewed journal Electoral Studies, has become a cornerstone of President Trump’s false claim that he would have “won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.” This week White House Press secretary Sean Spicer once again dragged the study to the forefront, noting that a study of the 2008 election (which he wrongly attributed to Pew Research) showed 14 percent of non-citizens are registered to vote. That was Richman’s research, all right. The problem, says Richman, who identifies as a political moderate, is that the Trump administration’s interpretation of his report is totally off. “Trump and others have been misreading our research and exaggerating our results to make claims we don’t think our research supports,” Richman says. “I’m not sure why they continue to do it, but there’s not much I can do about that aside from set the record straight.”
National: Tiffany Trump, Steve Bannon, Steven Mnuchin Registered to Vote in Multiple States | US News
President Donald Trump called for an investigation into alleged voter fraud, including whether citizens are registered to vote in more than one state, but least one member of his family, one of his senior aides, and a Cabinet nominee have been found to be registered in at least two states. “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),” Trump tweeted Wednesday. “Depending on results, we will strengthen up voting procedure.” Trump’s nominee to be the secretary of the Treasury, former Goldman Sachs partner Steven Mnuchin, is registered to vote in both New York and California, according to a review of documents by CNN.
President Donald Trump declared Wednesday that he is ordering a “major investigation” into widespread voter fraud, raising the prospect of a federal government probe into a widely debunked claim and sparking alarm among experts and Democrats.
Trump announced in a pair of early morning tweets that the investigation will look at those registered to vote in more than one state, “those who are illegal and … even, those registered to vote who are dead (and many for a long time).” Depending on results, the Republican tweeted on his sixth day in office, “we will strengthen up voting procedures!” He went further later Wednesday, claiming: “You have people registered in two states. They’re registered in a New York and a New Jersey. They vote twice.” “There are millions of votes, in my opinion,” Trump told ABC. “Of those votes cast, none of them come to me. None of them come to me.” All 50 states and the District of Columbia have finalized their election results with no reports of the kind of widespread fraud that Trump alleges.
On Monday, President Trump gathered House and Senate leaders in the State Dining Room for a get-to-know-you reception, served them tiny meatballs and pigs-in-a-blanket, and quickly launched into a story meant to illustrate what he believes to be rampant, unchecked voter fraud. Mr. Trump kicked off the meeting, participants said, by retelling his debunked claim that he would have won the popular vote if not for the three million to five million ballots cast by “illegals.” He followed it up with a Twitter post early Wednesday calling for a major investigation into voter fraud. When one of the Democrats protested, Mr. Trump said he was told a story by “the very famous golfer, Bernhard Langer,” whom he described as a friend, according to three staff members who were in the room for the meeting. In the emerging Trump era, the story was a memorable example, for the legislators and the country, of how an off-the-cuff yarn — unverifiable and of confusing origin — became a prime policy mover for a president whose fact-gathering owes more to the oral tradition than the written word. The three witnesses recall the story this way: Mr. Langer, a 59-year-old native of Bavaria, Germany — a winner of the Masters twice and of more than 100 events on major professional golf tours around the world — was standing in line at a polling place near his home in Florida on Election Day, the president explained, when an official informed Mr. Langer he would not be able to vote.
You might think Republicans would be entirely satisfied with an Electoral College system that has twice in the last five elections elevated a fellow party-member to the presidency despite a loss in the national popular vote. But GOP legislators in Virginia and Minnesota are reviving pre-2016 legislation designed to emulate Maine and Nebraska in awarding Electoral College votes by congressional district rather than statewide vote totals. The ostensible rationale for these proposals is to provide representation in the Electoral College for regions that are outvoted at the state level by urban areas like Northern Virginia. But it’s really a hobbyhorse for state lawmakers who control states the other party typically carries at the presidential level. Indeed, Virginia toyed with such legislation shortly after the 2012 elections, along with Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. What these states had in common at the time was Republican “trifecta” control of state governments in states that had voted for Barack Obama over Mitt Romney. Not coincidentally, such a system would have awarded the presidency to Romney, who won 226 House districts against Obama’s 209 (Romney also won 28 states to Obama’s 22, which under the system Republicans are pushing, would have given statewide winners two bonus EVs).