Disputes, falsehoods surround Trump on road to White House
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.
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.