As you’ve heard, in a meeting with congressional leaders, President Trump privately repeated the claim that millions voted illegally in the presidential election, and if you discount those votes, Trump actually won the popular vote. In his latest rendition of this tale, which he had previously recited just after the election, Trump claimed that as many as three to five million people voted illegally. Tuesday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer was grilled on this news, and disconcertingly, Spicer confirmed that Trump really believes this to be the case. That’s bad enough. But this quote from Spicer may be even more worrisome:
“I think there have been studies; there was one that came out of Pew in 2008 that showed 14 percent of people who have voted were not citizens. There’s other studies that have been presented to him. It’s a belief he maintains.”
Post fact checker Michelle Ye Hee Lee posted a piece Tuesday taking apart Spicer’s assertion. There are no studies that show what Spicer claims. But what’s really problematic here is that there are no indications that any of Trump’s advisers have been able to talk him out of this belief, presuming they even tried, which is not clear, either. After all, Spicer himself said that Trump gathered his conclusion from actual data — the “studies that have been presented to him.” Did any of his advisers try to “present him” with the contrary evidence, which is far more conclusive and persuasive? If they did, why did Trump not find this convincing? If they did not, why didn’t they? Whichever of these is the case, neither is particularly reassuring.
Remember, we’ve already seen other instances of Trump’s advisers failing to act as a check on him when he flies off the rails of reality. The New York Times has already reported that, when Trump began stewing over the media coverage showing his inaugural crowds were not quite as spectacular, impressive and glorious as Trump thought they should be, some Trump advisers reportedly counseled him against pushing back. But they lost that battle:
The lack of discipline troubled even senior members of Mr. Trump’s circle, some of whom had urged him not to indulge his simmering resentment at what he saw as unfair news coverage. Instead, Mr. Trump chose to listen to other aides who shared his outrage and desire to punch back.
So Trump and Spicer both went out there and lashed out at the news media for accurately reporting his crowd sizes, with Spicer adding that Trump’s inauguration viewership was larger than any other in history, which is preposterously false, no matter which angle you examine it from.