President Trump’s efforts to root out voter fraud in the 2016 election were always a charade. Before Election Day, he offered dire warnings in his campaign speeches about voters near Philadelphia (winkwinkwinkwink) and in other places who were voting illegally. His campaign put together a halfhearted poll-watching system, encouraging supporters to blow the whistle on apparent fraudulent activity at the polls. Then, unexpectedly, Trump won Pennsylvania, and his claims of fraud in the Keystone State vanished from his portfolio faster than an Atlantic City casino. Instead, he found new targets: California — a state which, by itself, made up the vote margin by which Trump lost the popular vote — and New Hampshire, a state he narrowly lost. In Michigan, the closest state of the cycle, Trump wasn’t worried about fraud having been a factor; his lawyers declared in a court filing in that state opposing a recount that “All available evidence suggests that the 2016 general election was not tainted by fraud or mistake.”
Trump seized on any nonsense he could to undermine the idea that he’d lost the popular vote, including one assertion made by a guy on Twitter that his analysis showed millions of fraudulent votes. Pressed by CNN for evidence of that claim — made only weeks after the election — Gregg Phillips, the man who made it, declined to offer any and eventually deleted his tweet.
A less-noticed claim of Trump’s was that all of this fraudulent voting benefited his opponent in 2016. During an interview with ABC shortly after his inauguration, Trump said of those alleged millions of fraudulent votes, “they would all be for the other side. None of ’em come to me.” Why make this utterly bizarre claim? Because the only point of asserting fraud after the fact is so that Trump can convince himself and others that he actually won the popular vote. If there were 3 million fraudulent votes and 1 million supported Trump, he still lost. (Incidentally, in our look at actual fraud that occurred after the election — finding precisely four examples — most of those caught casting fraudulent votes supported Trump.)