White House defends Trump’s debunked claim of massive voter fraud, ‘maybe’ will investigate

White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Tuesday doubled down on President Trump’s claim that millions of people voted illegally in the recent presidential election, despite widespread evidence to the contrary.

“The president does believe that,” Spicer told reporters during a media briefing.

Trump, who had previously made the debunked claim, reportedly repeated it again Monday during a White House reception, where he said 3 to 5 million votes were cast by people who illegally immigrated to the U.S. Trump uses this assertion to argue that he won the popular vote against Hillary Clinton, who beat him by nearly 3 million votes overall.

Though fact-checkers and independent analysis have never found evidence of widespread voter fraud, Spicer would not back down from Trump’s comments.

“He’s stated his concerns about voter fraud and people voting illegally during the campaign, and he continues to maintain that belief based on studies and evidence that people have presented to him,” Spicer said.

No credible study supports Trump’s claim, and the only study Spicer cited does not support the president on the issue.

Reporters continued to grill Spicer on the topic throughout the briefing, with more than one journalist asking whether the Trump administration would launch an investigation if there were actually massive electoral fraud. “Maybe we will,” Spicer said at one point.

Though, as one reporter noted, millions of illegal votes would be “a scandal of astronomical proportions,” Spicer said Trump was not at all concerned about the integrity of his victory. “We think he won fairly overwhelmingly,” he said.

“The comment that he made was, he said, 3 to 5 million people could have voted illegally based on the studies that he’s seen. But he’s very clear that he won the election,” Spicer said, again without elaborating on the supposed evidence.

“I think let’s not prejudge what we may or may not do in the future,” he added of a potential investigation.

Trump has continuously made baseless claims about widespread voter fraud before he ran for president, during his campaign and since the election. Just weeks after he was elected president, Trump took to Twitter to dispute Clinton’s popular vote count, claiming without evidence that he would’ve won the popular vote if not for “the millions of people who voted illegally.”

White House press secretary Sean Spicer calls on a reporter during the daily briefing at the White House on Jan. 24, 2017. Spicer answered questions about the Dakota Pipeline, infrastructure, jobs and other topics. (Photo: Susan Walsh/AP)

A reporter later asked Spicer how Trump could be confident in his win if so many illegal votes were cast.

“He’s very comfortable with his win,” Spicer said. “He believes what he believes based on the information he’s provided.” The reporter tried to press Spicer more, but the spokesman cut him off and moved on.

Other Republicans have not been as willing to defend Trump on the issue. At his weekly press conference Tuesday, House Speaker Paul Ryan said he’s seen “no evidence” to support the commander in chief’s assertion.

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