WASHINGTON - President Trump’s administration has redefined the word “facts” to support his claim that he lost the popular vote because between 3 million and 5 million illegal votes were cast in the November election.
Neither he nor anyone else in the White House has been able to offer any credible evidence to support his off the wall accusation, but that hasn’t stopped him from making similarly dubious claims lately, as in the past.
During a meeting with congressional leaders Monday, Trump repeated his voter fraud claim, saying that Hillary Clinton wouldn’t have won the popular vote by more than 2.8 million votes, if it had not been for the millions of illegal votes cast in the election.
It was an issue that gnawed at his ego and that he has not been able to drop since the election and simply move on to the business of governing.
Last Nov. 27, he tweeted, “In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.”
This week, White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters at Tuesday’s briefing, “I think there have been studies; there was one that came out of Pew (a polling research center) in 2008 that showed 14 percent of people who have voted were not citizens. There are other studies that were presented to him.”
But the Pew study made no such claims.
The Washington Post’s Fact Checker said the Pew study he may have been referring to was a 2012 study on ways “to make the election system more accurate, cost-effective and efficient.”
David Becker, the study’s chief author, told Fact Checker, “We found millions of out of date registration records due to people moving or dying, but found no evidence that voter fraud resulted.”
Then there was Trump’s filing to the Michigan Board of Canvassers in his opposition to a recount: “All available evidence suggests that the 2016 general election was not tainted by fraud or mistake.”
The Fact Checker gave Spicer a failing grade of “Four Pinocchios” for defending Trump’s patently false claims.
Trump often played fast and loose with the facts throughout his presidential campaign.
There was his claim that he saw thousands of Muslim Americans in New Jersey cheering when the Twin Towers came down on 9/11. To this day, no one has been able to produce any evidence of this happening.
More recently, Trump addressed intelligence officials last Saturday at CIA headquarters, standing before a wall of stars memorializing slain officers, complaining that the news media was lying about the size of the crowds who turned out for his inauguration.
The news media reported that in places along the mall, and among the inaugural parade stands, the crowds were sparse, and showed photos to prove it.
But Trump, in remarks at the CIA, said the real count was between “a million, a million and a half people.”
Because of the president’s insistence that his estimate was correct, and his increased attacks on the news media, the story was blown all out of proportion to its importance. Yet Trump refused to drop the issue, despite pleas from his White House high command to move on to the work of governing.
But later in the day, Trump ordered Spicer to go to the briefing room and defend his exaggerated estimate of the crowd’s size. That led Spicer to tick off a list of unproved and utterly false claims to reporters.
The attendance was “the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period…” he said.
But wait, it got worse. Trump sent his campaign’s chief spokeswomen, Kellyanne Conway, now the White House counselor, to go on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday to defend Spicer’s false statements and offer an alarmingly new definition of facts that only “1984” novelist George Orwell’s Big Brother could love:
“Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts,” Conway said.
That triggered an abrupt put down from the program’s moderator, Chuck Todd, who shot back, “alternative facts aren’t facts. They are falsehoods.”
Are we in for four years of presidential “double speak,” a term coined by Orwell in his futurist, dystopian novel?
This week Trump seemed to be settling down a bit and focusing on business, issuing a rash of executive orders, including his plan to build a $10 billion to $20 billion wall, with a few caveats. It won’t be along our entire 2,000 mile border with Mexico, just half of it.
And U.S. taxpayers, not Mexico, will be coughing up the cash.