After making unsubstantiated claims that three to four million votes in the 2016 election were fraudulent, President Trump has promised a "massive investigation." He Tweeted on: "Depending on the results, we will strengthen up voting procedures."
Voter rights activists are alarmed. For them, "strengthen(ing) up voting procedures" is code for codifying voter suppression: creating strictures which systematically oppress and depress the black and minority vote. "Voter Fraud Is A Myth, Voter Suppression Is Not," says the NAACP’s memo on the issue.
The only evidence Trump has offered in support of his voter-fraud allegation is a Pew Center report directed by David Becker which focused on inefficiencies in voter rolls. Over the past two days, Becker has been all over the airwaves to debunk Trump’s interpretation of his analysis, telling CNN the Pew report made "no findings with respect to voter fraud," rather telling Anderson Cooper "our election system is remarkably secure," and that "study after study from the Bush DOJ to the Federal Election Assistance Commission…have all found" that the incidents of voter fraud are exceedingly rare.
Trump’s own lawyers have argued that the 2016 election was free of widespread fraud when contesting a lawsuit brought by the Green Party’s Jill Stein. Per their memo: "All available evidence suggests that the 2016 general election was not tainted by fraud or mistake."
This leaves the President in the position of making a radical allegation about the very foundation of our democratically held elections — an election which secured him the White House and Republican control of Congress — with no credible evidence to back it up. This hasn’t prevented the President from doubling down on his claim in an interview with ABC’s David Muir, in which Muir confronted him with Becker disavowing Trump’s interpretation of the Pew report. "Then he’s groveling," Trump said, possibly suggesting that Becker was recasting his report to curry favor with Cooper, which is also patently false since Becker has maintained his report’s finding of no election fraud in interviews dating back to 2012.
Why would Trump make such allegations? Well, it is worth noting that three to four million votes is about the amount Clinton beat Trump by in the popular vote. Further to the point, Trump told Muir in their interview about these allegedly fraudulent votes: "Of those votes cast, none of them come to me, none of them come to me, they would all be for the other side."
Recently, voter rights became a flashpoint on Capitol Hill during the confirmation hearings for Trump’s appointee for Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, whose history with the issue was called into question by Representative John Lewis and Cory Booker. Knowing that the highest prosecutorial office in the land will not be in their court has put voter suppression watchdogs on especially high alert.
For Trump to allege voter fraud in an election which he won, and one in which the international intelligence community has concluded he was aided by Russian conspiratorial interference, is a mind-boggling development. But this sort of "alternative fact" whiplash seems to be on Page One of the Trump Administration’s playbook. It's possible that Trump is in singular possession of evidence regarding the most damning voter fraud in our democracy's history. Or it is possible that Trump thrives on gaslighting by means pure factual chaos.
In any event, protect your neck, because this won’t be the last time the fact discrepancy between the media and the White House makes everyone's heads spin.
Especially not when Trump’s chief strategist is calling the media "the opposition party."