On Tuesday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer put forth the incredible proposition that Donald Trump, the President of the United States, not only believes as many as five million people voted illegally in this election—thus questioning the legitimacy of his own presidency—he’s also cool with it, and doesn’t intend to investigate.
“The president does believe that [there was widespread voter fraud in this election], he has stated that before. I think he’s stated his concerns with voter fraud and people voting illegally during the campaign, and he continues to maintain that belief based on studies and evidence that people have presented to him,” Spicer said. He mentioned, specifically, a 2008 study.
That 2008 Pew study, which Spicer repeatedly referenced, is actually a 2012 study that concluded that about 25 million voter records nationwide are out-of-date. It did not, as the study’s author and the executive director for the Center for Election Innovation and Research David Becker clarified on Twitter in November, find any evidence of voter fraud.
“The report did not allege the 1.8 million deceased people actually voted. Rather, Pew said that it is evidence of the need to upgrade voter registration systems,” FactCheck.org also concluded after Trump mistakenly claimed, during a debate, that “people who died 10 years ago” were voting in elections.
When one reporter asked Spicer why the administration wasn’t investigating what, by his words, sounds like a scandal of massive proportions, Spicer briefly reconsidered his stance: “Maybe we will,” he said, before walking it back again just a few minutes later.
“There is no investigation. I said it was possible. Anything is possible. It was a hypothetical question,” he said, stumbling over his words. One reason why everyone should just forget about the implications of such fraud beyond how it excuses Trump’s poor showing in the popular vote, Spicer explained, is because Trump won the electoral college.
“I think he won very handily, with 306 electoral votes, 33 states. He’s very comfortable with his win. I think he was having a discussion with some folks and mentioned something in passing,” Spicer said, later refusing to answer questions about whether he personally believed there had been voter fraud.
To be fair, if Spicer’s goal was to make Donald Trump look like a tin foil-wrapped lunatic, then he’s pretty good at his job.