WASHINGTON (AP) — Thought the 2016 presidential election settled the hard-fought campaign once and for all? Not everyone is there yet.
An advisory committee that President Donald Trump created to examine the integrity of U.S. voting systems held its first meeting Wednesday. And its vice chairman, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, said afterward that "we may never know" whether Trump's rival, Democrat Hillary Clinton, won the popular vote through voter fraud.
Trump himself claimed shortly after taking office in January that he would have won the popular vote if 3 million to 5 million immigrants living the country illegally had not been allowed to vote in the presidential election last Nov. 8.
There has been no evidence of widespread tampering or hacking that would change the election outcome. Throughout the campaign, Trump pushed false claims about voter fraud, repeatedly claiming that the system had been "rigged" against him. He tweeted in late November that he would have won the popular vote "if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally." He also complained that the news media wasn't covering "serious voter fraud" in California, New Hampshire and Virginia.
Here are the statements from Kobach and how they compare with the facts:
KOBACH, in an interview Wednesday with MSNBC, on whether he believed voter fraud helped Clinton win the popular vote by 3 million to 5 million votes: "We will probably never know the answer to that question because even if you could prove that a certain number of votes were cast by ineligible voters, for example, you wouldn't know how they voted."
Asked again whether he believed Clinton won the popular vote, Kobach said: "We may never know the answer to that question."
Kobach replied "absolutely" when asked whether the votes for Trump were also in doubt.
THE FACTS: Clinton received nearly 2.9 million more votes than Trump, giving her the largest popular vote margin of any losing U.S. presidential candidate.
Certified results in all 50 states and the District of Columbia show Clinton winning nearly 65,844,610 votes, or 48 percent of the total, to Trump's 62,979,636 votes, or 46 percent, according to an analysis by The Associated Press. She is the fifth U.S. presidential candidate to win the popular vote but lose the Electoral College, and therefore the presidency.
With all states voting, Trump finished with 304 Electoral College votes, to 227 for Clinton. The Electoral College has 538 votes.
TRUMP, promising that a health-care rewrite he is pressing Senate Republican lawmakers to pass will "provide better coverage for low income Americans."
THE FACTS: That's not how the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office sees it. Deep cuts to Medicaid and changes that would shift medical costs to consumers with individual private policies are likely to result in fewer low-income people having health coverage.
In most states, Medicaid coverage is either free of charge or involves only nominal costs for low-income people. The GOP "repeal and replace" bills would phase out a Medicaid expansion that's mainly for adults, while also limiting future federal spending on the program. According to the budget office, projected federal spending would be reduced by $772 billion from 2017-2026 in the Senate bill, and 15 million fewer people would be covered by Medicaid by 2026.
As for private insurance, the Senate bill envisions a shift to skimpier plans with higher deductibles. "As a result, despite being eligible for premium tax credits, few low-income people would purchase any plan," the budget office said.
Associated Press writer Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar contributed to this report.
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