He certainly did not admit to being wrong, but in his own way President Trump walked back his false claim that 3 million to 5 million illegal ballots were cast in the November election when he sat down with Fox News host Bill O’Reilly for an interview that aired before the Super Bowl. Asked whether it was irresponsible for the president to undermine public confidence in the integrity of the vote without data to back up his assertion, Trump said, “It doesn’t have to do with the vote.” “It has to do with the registration,” he continued. “And when you look at the registration, and you see dead people that have voted, when you see people that are registered in two states — and that voted in two states — when you see other things, when you see illegals, people that are not citizens and they are on the registration rolls. Look, Bill, we can be babies, but you take a look at the registration. You have illegals, you have dead people, you have this — it’s really a bad situation. It’s really bad.”
O’Reilly pressed: “But the data has to show that 3 million illegals voted” for Trump to be right, he said. “Forget that,” Trump replied. “Forget all that. Just take a look at the registration, and we’re going to do it. And I’m going to set up a commission to be headed by Vice President Mike Pence, and we’re going to look at it very carefully.”
“Forget all that” is about as close as Trump gets to acknowledging he was wrong to claim that millions of illegal ballots tainted an election in which he lost the popular vote. He is basically asking voters to pretend that what he really meant all along is that registries often contain inaccuracies.
That is not what Trump meant all along, but he is right about the registries. A 2012 Pew Research Center study that Trump’s team often cites (and mischaracterizes) concluded that “approximately 24 million registration records, or nearly 13 percent of the national total, are estimated to be inaccurate or no longer valid.”