Trump’s New Explanation For Losing The Popular Vote? A Twitter-Born Conspiracy Theory

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Something has clearly been gnawing at Donald Trump. Sure, he won the electoral vote and therefore the presidency, but he lost the popular vote by 2.2 million votes – and counting. (Counting mostly in California, where Democrat Hillary Clinton won easily and where there are 1.4 million more ballots to tally.) Trump’s victory is marred by that fact: He will be the president, but more people voted against him.

With news that Clinton’s campaign would join the Green Party’s Jill Stein to review ballots in key Midwestern states, Trump went on a Twitter tirade, dismissing Clinton’s decision as hypocritical and that it would end with the same result. (“Sad!” he added.)

That’s probably true. But he couldn’t resist taking the idea one step further in another tweet Sunday afternoon.

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.”

Clinton didn’t really win the popular vote, he’s arguing, because millions of votes were invalid. This is one in a series of efforts to dismiss Clinton’s popular-vote victory, efforts that have hinged on misreading CNN election results or random tweets underpinned by no actual data.

In fact, this claim that millions of illegal immigrants voted is itself the result of a random tweet.

On Nov. 13, Gregg Phillips, a former Texas Health and Human Services Commission deputy commissioner, tweeted about there being 3 million votes that were cast by noncitizens.

Phillips claims in another tweet that his organization (it’s not clear which organization, but it may be VoteStand) has a database of 180 million voter registrations and he confirms that 3 million of the people in that database who voted are noncitizens. He has been asked to provide evidence for that claim repeatedly, without having done so.

Regardless, the story was quickly picked up by the conspiracy-theory hawking site InfoWars, a story that was linked out at the top of the Drudge Report on Nov. 14.

When Matt Drudge qualifies something with “Claim:” it’s worth treating it with skepticism.

The rumor-debunking site Snopes looked at Phillips’ claim and found no evidence for it. (It also noted that Phillips has a history of implying that Obamacare will lead to the registration of millions of immigrants here illegally.)

Phillips replied on Twitter, “One might imagine someone would have called me.” That’s easier said than done; when I was looking at this earlier this month I couldn’t find a way to contact Phillips. An email to True the Vote, a conservative group focused on the issue of voter fraud (for which Phillips claims to be a board member), did not receive a reply.

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