President Donald Trump put the power of the presidency behind one of his favorite theories on Wednesday, convening a panel to investigate voter fraud even though experts have largely dismissed his evidence-free claim that “millions” of illegal votes last year cost him the popular vote. Vice President Mike Pence, who leads the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity created by executive order in May, said at the group’s first meeting that its findings were not predetermined. But Trump himself has repeatedly declared, without evidence, that mass voter fraud took place during the 2016 election. And by Wednesday afternoon, the fraud theories became even more muddled when Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, Trump’s hand-picked vice chair of the commission, indicated he had no way of knowing who actually won the 2016 election.
Kobach said on MSNBC that “we may never know” if Democrat Hillary Clinton won the popular vote. Pressed by host Katy Tur on whether the same logic applied to Trump’s November victory, he replied: “Absolutely.”
Experts and election-watchers stand by the 2016 results, in which Clinton won the nationwide popular vote by 3 million votes but Trump took the presidency by winning in the Electoral College. Those results have been certified by Congress.