Jason Miller, communications director for President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team, urged the media Monday to focus on “issues of both voter fraud and illegal immigrants voting” rather than an election recount that he dismissed as “nonsensical” and a “shiny object.”
Miller’s comments came on the transition team’s daily press call when he was asked about a series of tweets Trump sent on Sunday asserting that he “won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.” His campaign has provided no evidence for the claim, and outside experts say it has no merit.
Trump made his comments in response to news that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign is participating in a recount of the voting in Wisconsin that was requested by Green Party candidate Jill Stein. The recount can take place with or without Clinton’s involvement, but she has the right to have observers present, and evidently intends to exercise it. Clinton campaign general counsel Marc Elias said the campaign would also participate in recounts of Pennsylvania and Michigan if Stein is successful in initiating them.
Stein’s recount push came after a group of computer science experts said they detected statistical anomalies in voting patterns in those states that possibly benefited Trump. Other experts have dismissed these claims and Elias has said the Clinton campaign has found no evidence of irregularities. Trump won in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, and Clinton would need to flip the results in all three — considered extremely unlikely — to change the outcome in the Electoral College.
On Twitter, Trump dismissed the recount as a “Green Party scam.” He went on to allege there was “serious voter fraud in Virginia, New Hampshire and California,” all states won by Clinton. Trump is not requesting recounts in those states. His comments were widely discounted because there is no independent evidence that large numbers of people “voted illegally.” The claim seems to have originated as an Internet conspiracy theory.
During Monday’s transition team press call, Miller was asked if he had any evidence of illegal voting in the three blue states. “Thanks for bringing that up,” Miller replied, but answered instead by attacking Clinton for backing a recount. He pointed out that Clinton initially conceded the election to Trump. He added that Elias, her campaign’s general counsel, has called for North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory to concede and stop contesting his reelection loss even though it was by a “much smaller margin.”
“I really do think that it’s been ridiculous that so much oxygen has been given to a recount effort where there’s absolutely no chance of any election results changing. This election has been decided. It’s a conceded election,” Miller said.
In support of Trump’s assertions, Miller cited reports of people who were improperly registered to vote — including a disputed Washington Post article from 2014 that cited data showing “more than 14 percent of noncitizens” indicated they were registered to vote in polling conducted for a study in 2008 and 2010. He also pointed to a Pew Research study from 2012 that found “approximately 24 million — one of every eight — voter registrations in the United States are no longer valid or are significantly inaccurate” and that “approximately 2.75 million people have registrations in more than one state.”
“So, all of these are studies or examples where there have been issues of both voter fraud and illegal immigrants voting,” said Miller. “So, if this much attention and oxygen is going to be given to a completely frivolous throwaway fundraising scheme by someone like Jill Stein, then there should be actual, substantive looks at the overall examples of voter fraud and illegal immigrants voting in recent years. And so that’s the broader message that I think should be taken away here.”
Pressed by reporters, Miller did not cite any specific evidence of illegal voting, as distinguished from improper registrations. Asked if there was a chance Trump would push federal or local officials to investigate voter fraud when he takes office next January. Miller said it would be “inappropriate” for him to speculate about potential investigations, but he reiterated his view voter fraud is a “concern” that merits attention and press coverage.
“Obviously, I do think that it’s an issue of concern, the fact that there’s a concern that so many … voted who were not legally supposed to,” Miller said, before adding, “I think there’s a responsibility from members of the media … to give an appropriate level of attention to some of these different concerns … as opposed to just chasing the shiny object of the Jill Stein recount effort, which is really just a way for Ms. Stein and the Green Party to make money.”
Stein’s campaign claims to have raised over $6.3 million to file for recounts in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan. The campaign initially said they would “need to raise about 2.5 million dollars collectively for all three states” for filing costs. Stein and her campaign have not responded to multiple requests for comment from Yahoo News about Trump’s criticism of the effort.
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