Dis­putes, false­hoods sur­round Trump on road to White House

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - KICKOFF - By Julie Pace and Cather­ine Lucey

The drama, dis­putes and false­hoods that per­me­ated Don­ald Trump’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign are now roil­ing his tran­si­tion to the White House, forc­ing aides to de­fend his base­less as­ser­tions of il­le­gal vot­ing and send­ing in­ter­nal fights spilling into public.

On Mon­day, a re­count ef­fort, led by Green Party can­di­date Jill Stein and joined by Hil­lary Clin­ton’s cam­paign also marched on in three states, based partly on the Stein cam­paign’s un­sub­stan­ti­ated as­ser­tion that cy­ber­hack­ing could have in­ter­fered with elec­tronic vot­ing ma­chines. Wis­con­sin of­fi­cials ap­proved plans to be­gin a re­count as early as Thurs­day. Stein also asked for a re­count in Penn­syl­va­nia and was ex­pected to do the same in Michi­gan, where of­fi­cials cer­ti­fied Trump’s vic­tory Mon­day.

Trump has an­grily de­nounced the re­counts and now claims with­out ev­i­dence that he, not Clin­ton, would have won the pop­u­lar vote if it hadn’t been for “millions of peo­ple who voted il­le­gally.” On Twit­ter, he sin­gled out Vir­ginia, Cal­i­for­nia and New Hamp­shire.

There has been no in­di­ca­tion of wide­spread elec­tion tam­per­ing or voter fraud in those states or any oth­ers, and Trump aides strug­gled Mon­day to back up their boss’ claim.

Spokesman Ja­son Miller said il­le­gal vot­ing was “an is­sue of con­cern.” But the only ev­i­dence he raised was a 2014 news re­port and a study on vot­ing ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties con­ducted be­fore the 2016 elec­tion.

Trump met Mon­day with can­di­dates for top Cabi­net posts, in­clud­ing re­tired Gen. David Pe­traeus, a new con­tender for sec­re­tary of state. Trump is to meet Tues­day with Ten­nessee Sen. Bob Corker, who is also be­ing con­sid­ered more se­ri­ously for the diplo­matic post, and Mitt Rom­ney, who has be­come a sym­bol of the in­ter­nal di­vi­sions ag­i­tat­ing the tran­si­tion team.

Pe­traeus said he spent about an hour with Trump, and he praised the pres­i­dent-elect for show­ing a “great grasp of a va­ri­ety of the chal­lenges that are out there.”

“Very good con­ver­sa­tion and we’ll see where it goes from here,” he said. A for­mer CIA chief, Pe­traeus pleaded guilty last year to a mis­de­meanor charge of mis­han­dling clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion re­lat­ing to doc­u­ments he had pro­vided to his bi­og­ra­pher, with whom he was hav­ing an af­fair.

Vice Pres­i­dent-elect Mike Pence, who is head­ing the tran­si­tion ef­fort, is said to be among those back­ing Rom­ney for State. Rom­ney was fiercely crit­i­cal of Trump through­out the cam­paign but is in­ter­ested in the Cabi­net po­si­tion, and they dis­cussed it dur­ing a lengthy meet­ing ear­lier this month.

CAROLYN KASTER — AP PHOTO

Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump, fol­lowed by his wife Me­la­nia Trump and son Bar­ron Trump, boards his plane at Palm Beach In­ter­na­tional Air­port on Sun­day in West Palm Beach, Fla., en route to New York.

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