WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump asserted in a private meeting with congressional leaders Monday night that he would have won the popular vote in the 2016 election if 3 million to 5 million immigrants living in the country illegally hadn’t voted.
Trump made the debunked claim, without offering any evidence, at a White House meeting with Democratic and Republican leaders, according to a Democratic aide familiar with the exchange who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the private meeting.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., alluded to it, telling reporters that Trump and the lawmakers talked about “the different Electoral College, popular vote.” Asked if anything surprised her about the meeting, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said, “I won’t even go into that.”
There has been no evidence of widespread tampering or hacking that would change the results of the presidential contest. Trump won the Electoral College by a comfortable margin but Democratic rival Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by nearly 2.9 million votes.
Throughout the campaign, Trump pushed false claims about the propensity of voter fraud, telling his supporters the election had been “rigged” against him.
Trump has made the unverified claims before, tweeting in late November that he would have won the popular vote “if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.” He also alleged at the time that there had been “serious voter fraud” in California, New Hampshire and Virginia and complained that the media wasn’t covering it.
Associated Press writer Mary Clare Jalonick contributed to this report.