It's no secret that Donald Trump is not starting the presidency with much love from his constituents. From the hashtag #NotMyPresident to Civil Rights icon and Representative John Lewis calling Trump an illegitimate president, from House Democrats boycotting the inauguration to women protesting around the world, many Americans see his election as a formality, not the will of the people—especially because he lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes. But, in true Trump fashion, our president truly believes he won the popular vote. He tweeted on his personal account, not his presidential one, that he only lost the popular vote because of massive voter fraud.
I will be asking for a major investigation into VOTER FRAUD, including those registered to vote in two states, those who are illegal and....
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 25, 2017
even, those registered to vote who are dead (and many for a long time). Depending on results, we will strengthen up voting procedures!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 25, 2017
On Wednesday, he made good on his promise, asking to launch an investigation into the voter fraud. He claims the fraudulent votes numbered in the 3 to 5 million range (what a coincidence that he lost by about that much!), with most of them coming from places like New York and California (what a coincidence that those are two of the bluest states in the country!).
Let's be clear: There is absolutely no evidence to suggest there was any significant voter fraud in the 2016 election. And Trump campaign attorneys used to believe that, back when they fought Dr. Jill Stein’s recount efforsts. At the time, they asserted the election was not tainted by voter fraud or mistakes. When this point was brought up in a press conference Wednesday, White House Press Secretary (or Secretary of Alternative Facts) Sean Spicer responded, “There was a lot of states we didn’t compete in that is not necessarily the case. California and New York… We didn’t look at those two states in particular… I think when you look at where a lot of these potential issues could have occurred, the bigger states, that’s where I think we are going to look.”
These large states went overwhelmingly to Clinton, so many don't see the value in looking at them instead at states where the race was the closest—swing states like New Hampshire and Florida. Because the investigation is allegedly going to focus on these heavily blue states, it seems more like retaliation than any real investigation. The Washington Post was told by an unnamed Trump adviser that the president has been upset over losing the popular vote for weeks (because if there is anything a narcissist hates, it’s obvious evidence that not everybody loves them). Again, neither Trump nor Spicer has offered any concrete evidence to legitimatize this investigation, but Spicer did say in Tuesday's press conference that Trump has believed voter fraud impacted the election "for a while, based on studies and information he has." Notice he's being as vague as possible—because there's literally no evidence that any signficant voter fraud has occurred.
White House press sec. says possible voter fraud could have occurred in “a lot of states that we didn’t compete in…big states...urban areas” pic.twitter.com/KhUqKR5Wbv
— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) January 25, 2017
There are many opponents to this investigation, some coming from within the Republican party. According to CBS News, House Speaker Paul Ryan has said “he has seen no evidence to that fact [of widespread voter fraud]”. According to the Washington Times, House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi said believes this investigation just displays Trump's insecurities.
Many Democrats see this as another pernicious way to strip voter rights from the people. The right to vote was previously protected by the Voting Rights Act of 1964. The act was meant to eliminate racial intimidation in the South that was stopping many black people from voting. But the act was gutted in 2013, after a decision by the Supreme Court saying parts of it were no longer relevant. In response, many Southern and Midwestern states instantly rolled back voter protections and put in place laws that restricted voters, such as voter ID laws. Rep.Elijiah Cummings of Maryland told MSNBC, "The thing that I worry about with this argument about voter fraud is it gives the Republicans and others another tool and another reason to justify to the public of denying people the right to vote."
This is far from the first time Trump has asserted the election was rigged against him. In fact, he maintained during the election that if Clinton won, it would be because the election was rigged. He even cited these studies from The Washington Post and the Pew Research Center to demonstrate that the voting system was allowing many people to vote illegally. But both studies instead showed only that the voting system was antiquated, and that many people were unsure if they even could vote. The Post study was rebutted, and the Pew study was subsequently downplayed. Pew maintains there is no evidence of voter fraud in the 2016 election. It was a claim many hopped to show were false, myself included. But our own president won't let it go.
In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 27, 2016
In addition to this investigation, Trump has also signed executive orders to continue building the Dakota Access Pipeline and restrict immigration. Yeah, it's going to be a LONG four years if the White House continues to lie and act on Trump's unsubstantiated beliefs. I'm tired already and it hasn't even been a week. *sigh*