Ex­perts, of­fi­cials trash Trump claim of mass fraud

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Ex­perts and elected of­fi­cials on both sides of the po­lit­i­cal aisle on Mon­day dis­missed Don­ald Trump’s claim that “mil­lions” of Amer­i­cans voted il­le­gally on Elec­tion Day, as ef­forts ex­panded to or­ga­nize re­counts in swing states.

The Repub­li­can bil­lion­aire’s vic­tory on Novem­ber 8 saw him clinch the cru­cial Elec­toral Col­lege count, which de­ter­mines the pres­i­dency, but lose the pop­u­lar vote to ri­val Hil­lary Clin­ton by more than two mil­lion bal­lots.

Clois­tered in his Florida re­sort for the long Thanks­giv­ing week­end, the 70-yearold ty­coon who has never pre­vi­ously held elected of­fice took to Twit­ter to in­dulge in one of his cus­tom­ary tweet storms. On Sun­day, be­fore re­turn­ing by pri­vate jet to New York to re­sume in­ter­views with po­ten­tial cabi­net ap­pointees, he claimed he would have won the pop­u­lar vote if it were not for “the mil­lions of peo­ple who voted il­le­gally.”

“Se­ri­ous voter fraud in Vir­ginia, New Hamp­shire and Cal­i­for­nia-so why isn’t the me­dia re­port­ing on this? Se­ri­ous bias-big prob­lem!” he fol­lowed up later. Trump, who spent the cam­paign warn­ing that the re­sult might be “rigged,” is now-with his aides-push­ing back hard as the Green Party works to se­cure re­counts in three states which Trump won: Michi­gan, Penn­syl­va­nia and Wis­con­sin.

The cam­paign of Green Party can­di­date Jill Stein, who won a tiny frac­tion of the vote in each state and where Trump beat Clin­ton by thou­sands of votes, said vot­ers had filed re­count re­quests in more than 100 (out of 9,163) precincts in Penn­syl­va­nia-promis­ing that more would fol­low.

The party re­quested a statewide re­count in Wis­con­sin on Fri­day and plans to re­quest a re­count in Michi­gan on Wed­nes­day, the cam­paign said.

But ob­servers deny any ev­i­dence of wide­spread fraud. And few ex­pect any change in the out­come of the vote, which for­mer sec­re­tary of state Clin­ton con­ceded to Trump in an early-hours phone call on Novem­ber 9.

Mean­while, Trump in­creased his Elec­toral Col­lege vote count to 306, com­pared to 232 for Clin­ton, af­ter Michi­gan cer­ti­fied its elec­tion re­sults-and his vic­tory there. Repub­li­can, Demo­cratic and in­de­pen­dent law­mak­ers dis­missed Trump’s claims as to­tally un­sub­stan­ti­ated.

Some ex­perts warned they set a danger­ous prece­dent by po­ten­tially un­der­min­ing trust in democ­racy or con­fi­dence in his lead­er­ship. “I have not seen any­thing in the mil­lions, I don’t know what he was talk­ing about,” Repub­li­can Se­na­tor James Lank­ford told CNN. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said “there has been no ev­i­dence pro­duced to sub­stan­ti­ate a claim like that.”

Clin­ton’s cam­paign has said it would join the process, but has also in­di­cated it so far sees no ev­i­dence of hack­ing or vote tam­per­ing.

Bernie Sanders, who ran against Clin­ton for the Demo­cratic nom­i­na­tion, called Trump’s re­marks “un­founded non­sense” that showed Repub­li­cans wanted to make it harder for peo­ple in­clud­ing mi­nori­ties to reg­is­ter to vote.

In New Hamp­shire, deputy sec­re­tary of state David Scanlan told AFP that iso­lated in­stances of voter fraud “show up in ev­ery elec­tion” but that the 2016 bal­lot had run “very smoothly.” But the dis­pute roils what has al­ready been a rough tran­si­tion pe­riod, as Trump con­tin­ues to hold back-to-back meet­ings with peo­ple he is con­sid­er­ing for cabi­net posts.

Trump has picked Ge­or­gia Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Tom Price, a ro­bust critic of Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s health care re­form law, to serve as health sec­re­tary, and plans to make a for­mal an­nounce­ment as early as Tues­day, US me­dia re­ported.

And his Vice pres­i­dent-elect Mike Pence told re­porters to ex­pect “a num­ber of very im­por­tant an­nounce­ments” yes­ter­day, fu­el­ing spec­u­la­tion of more cabi­net posts to be re­vealed. Trump threat­ened to end the thaw in US re­la­tions with Cuba, fol­low­ing the death of Fidel Cas­tro, un­less Ha­vana makes con­ces­sions on hu­man rights and open­ing up its econ­omy.

Dis­cord has flared in the Trump camp over the pick for sec­re­tary of state, the most pres­ti­gious job in the cabi­net-in par­tic­u­lar over the can­di­dacy of Mitt Rom­ney, the 2012 Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee. Other po­ten­tial can­di­dates are out­spo­ken for­mer New York mayor Rudy Gi­u­liani; David Pe­traeus, the cel­e­brated gen­eral who later re­signed as CIA di­rec­tor and pleaded guilty to show­ing classified ma­te­rial to his mis­tress; and Bob Corker, a Repub­li­can law­maker and chair­man of the Se­nate For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee.

Trump met Pe­traeus on Mon­day, and was to meet Rom­ney for a se­cond time yes­ter­day, in ad­di­tion to a planned meet­ing with Corker. “Very im­pressed!” tweeted Trump of Pe­traeus just minutes af­ter the gen­eral left the build­ing, hav­ing de­scribed their con­ver­sa­tion as “very good.”

Rom­ney was one of Trump’s most out­spo­ken crit­ics dur­ing the cam­paign, and Trump aide Kellyanne Con­way de­clared, in an unusual state­ment by a se­nior po­lit­i­cal aide, that she had re­ceived “a del­uge” of con­cern from sup­port­ers about him.—AFP

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