Trump as­sails re­count push but con­tends ‘millions’ voted il­le­gally

De­spite lack of ev­i­dence, he says ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties cost him pop­u­lar vote; aide con­cerned over Rom­ney con­sid­er­a­tion

Baltimore Sun - - FRONT PAGE - By Steve Peoples and Calvin Wood­ward

WEST PALM BEACH, FLA. — Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump claimed with­out ev­i­dence Sun­day that “millions” voted il­le­gally in the na­tional elec­tion, scoff­ing at Hil­lary Clin­ton’s nearly 2 mil­lion-voter edge in the pop­u­lar vote and re­turn­ing to his cam­paign ac­cu­sa­tion of a rigged race even as he pre­pares to en­ter the White House in less than two months.

Trump and his aides as­sailed an ef­fort — now joined by Clin­ton — to re­count votes in up to three bat­tle­ground states, call­ing the push fraud­u­lent, the work of “cry­ba­bies” and, in Trump’s es­ti­ma­tion, “sad.”

The pres­i­dent-elect went on to cast a shadow over the le­git­i­macy of an elec­tion that he won, tweet­ing that “I won the pop­u­lar vote if you deduct the millions of peo­ple who voted il­le­gally.” He fur­ther con­tended that if the pop­u­lar vote de­ter­mined the pres­i­dency, “It would have been much eas­ier for me to win” it be­cause he would have al­tered his cam­paign to pile up over­all vote to­tals, not Elec­toral Col­lege votes.

There’s been no in­di­ca­tion of wide- spread vote ma­nip­u­la­tion, il­le­gal vot­ing or hack­ing that ma­te­ri­ally af­fected the out­come one way or the other. That lack of ev­i­dence sug­gests that Trump is likely to pre­vail in re­counts.

As Trump worked to fill for­eign pol­icy and na­tional se­cu­rity posts in his Cabi­net, a top ad­viser ex­pressed as­ton­ish­ment that 2012 GOP pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Mitt Rom­ney re­mained un­der con­sid­er­a­tion for sec­re­tary of state af­ter his cam­paign-long ques­tion­ing of Trump’s char­ac­ter, in­tel­lect and in­tegrity.

On Sun­day, Trump tweeted part of Clin­ton’s con­ces­sion speech, when she told sup­port­ers they must ac­cept that “Don­ald Trump is go­ing to be our pres­i­dent,” and snip­pets from her de­bate

re­marks, when she de­nounced the Repub­li­can nom­i­nee for re­fus­ing to say in ad­vance that he would ac­cept the Elec­tion Day ver­dict.

This came on top of his say­ing it was a “scam” that Green Party nom­i­nee Jill Stein was re­vis­it­ing the vote count in Wis­con­sin, Michi­gan and Penn­syl­va­nia. Trump won Wis­con­sin and Penn­syl­va­nia, and as of Wed­nes­day, held a lead of al­most 11,000 votes in Michi­gan, with the re­sults await­ing state cer­ti­fi­ca­tion to­day. His Michi­gan mar­gin was a hair’s-breadth 0.22 per­cent of the state’s votes.

Clin­ton leads the na­tional pop­u­lar vote by close to 2 mil­lion votes, but Trump won 290 elec­toral votes to Clin­ton’s 232, not count­ing Michi­gan. She could con­ceiv­ably tip the elec­toral bal­ance in the re­mote event that all flipped to her in re­counts.

Trump planned to re­turn to New York on Sun­day af­ter spend­ing Thanks­giv­ing week­end at his West Palm Beach es­tate. His tran­si­tion team said the pres­i­dent-elect had sched­uled a series of meet­ings to­day with prospec­tive ad­min­is­tra­tion hires.

Among the jobs Trump has yet to fill: sec­re­tary of state. In­ter­nal divi­sion over the po­si­tion again spilled out into the open Sun­day as Trump se­nior ad­viser Kellyanne Con­way voiced her con­cerns over the pos­si­bil­ity of Rom­ney land­ing such a sig­nif­i­cant po­si­tion.

Trump sup­port­ers “feel a bit be­trayed that you can get a Rom­ney back in there af­ter ev­ery­thing he did,” Con­way said. “We don’t even know if he voted for Don­ald Trump. He and his con­sul­tants were noth­ing but aw­ful to Don­ald Trump for a year.” She added that she was “re­flect­ing what the grass-roots are say­ing.”

For­mer New York City Mayor Rudy Gi­u­liani and Ten­nessee Sen. Bob Corker are among other prospects to serve as the coun­try’s top diplo­mat.

“I’m all for party unity, but I’m not sure we have to pay for that with the sec­re­tary of state po­si­tion,” Con­way said.

Trump’s in­com­ing chief of staff, na­tional party Chair­man Reince Priebus, ac­knowl­edged that Rom­ney would rep­re­sent “a ‘team of ri­vals’ con­cept.”

Trump was mostly silent on the brew­ing re­count ef­fort un­til it be­came known that Clin­ton would join it, at least in Wis­con­sin. On Satur­day, a day af­ter Wis­con­sin of­fi­cials said they would con­duct the first pres­i­den­tial re­count in the state’s his­tory, Clin­ton cam­paign at­tor­ney Marc Elias said: “We in­tend to par­tic­i­pate in or­der to en­sure the process pro­ceeds in a man­ner that is fair to all sides.”

Elias said Clin­ton would take the same ap­proach in Penn­syl­va­nia and Michi­gan if Stein were to fol­low through with re­count re­quests in those states. That loos­ened Trump’s tongue. “Hil­lary Clin­ton con­ceded the elec­tion when she called me just prior to the vic­tory speech and af­ter the re­sults were in,” Trump tweeted Sun­day. “Noth­ing will change.”

He quoted from her con­ces­sion speech — “We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead” — and he con­cluded: “So much time and money will be spent — same re­sult! Sad.”

On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Con­way said Stein, “the Hil­lary peo­ple” and oth­ers sup­port­ing re­counts have to de­cide whether they are go­ing to back a peace­ful tran­si­tion “or if they’re go­ing to be a bunch of cry­ba­bies and sore losers about an elec­tion that they can’t turn around.”

Priebus, on “Fox News Sun­day,” called the ef­fort a “to­tal and com­plete dis­trac­tion and a fraud and some­thing that they should Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump, shown dur­ing his meet­ing this month with Pres­i­dent Barack Obama, will be back in New York to­day to dis­cuss more ad­min­is­tra­tion hires. drop.”

Clin­ton’s lawyer said her team has been comb­ing through the re­sults since the elec­tion in search of anom­alies that would sug­gest hack­ing by Rus­sians or oth­ers and found “no ac­tion­able ev­i­dence” of an al­tered out­come. More­over, Elias said, Trump has a vote lead even in the clos­est states that well ex­ceeds the largest mar­gin ever over­come in a re­count.

But “we feel it is im­por­tant, on prin­ci­ple, to en­sure our cam­paign is legally rep­re­sented in any court pro­ceed­ings and rep­re­sented on the ground in or­der to mon­i­tor the re­count process it­self,” he said.

Trump beat Clin­ton in Wis­con­sin by fewer than 22,200 votes, less than 1 per­cent of votes cast. He won Penn­syl­va­nia by some 70,600 votes, just more than 1 per­cent­age point over Clin­ton.

PABLO MARTINEZ MONSIVAIS/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

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