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Trump to launch investigation into unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud

President Donald Trump will sign an executive action Thursday to launch an investigation into claims of voter fraud.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said on-board Air Force One the president will sign the order in the Oval Office. He didn’t give more details.

Trump has repeatedly said he believes there was widespread voter fraud in the November election and that scores of people were on voter rolls in multiple states or after they died.

The president also says he believes many voted more than once and that “none” of those ballots were cast for him.

There is no evidence to support Trump’s claims.

AP report: Trump advances false claim that 3-5 million voted illegally

Trump announced in a pair of tweets early Wednesday that the investigation will look at those registered to vote in more than one state, “those who are illegal and … even, those registered to vote who are dead (and many for a long time).” Depending on results, the Republican tweeted on his sixth day in office, “we will strengthen up voting procedures!”

He went further later Wednesday, claiming: “You have people registered in two states. They’re registered in a New York and a New Jersey. They vote twice.”

“There are millions of votes, in my opinion,” Trump told ABC. “Of those votes cast, none of them come to me. None of them come to me.”

All 50 states and the District of Columbia have finalized their election results with no reports of the kind of widespread fraud that Trump alleges.

The White House provided few details on what the probe may entail. Press secretary Sean Spicer would not say Wednesday whether the investigation would be led by the FBI or some other agency. He said only that its goal would be “to understand where the problem exists and how deep it goes” and that it would not be limited to the 2016 election.

Spicer suggested a task force could be commissioned to focus on dead people who remained on voter rolls and people registered in two or more states. And he said it could center on “bigger” states where Trump didn’t compete during the campaign, singling out California and New York, two Democratic strongholds.

Trump’s tweet alarmed Democrats who already believe that moves to tighten voter ID laws are a means to restrict access to the ballot box. Like the president, Trump’s pick for attorney general, Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, who could oversee any federal probe, has shown sympathy toward claims of voting fraud.

Donald Trump made the issue of voter fraud a rallying cry during his campaign. Now President Trump is still claiming — with zero evidence and GOP resistance — that millions of illegal votes were cast for Hillary Clinton and announcing an investigation. In this video, William Brangham talks with Rick Hasen of the University of California, Irvine, and California Secretary of State Alex Padilla.

Speaking to congressional leaders Monday, Trump said 3 to 5 million immigrants in the U.S. illegally voted in the election, denying him a popular vote majority. If that claim were true, it would mark the most significant election fraud in U.S. history — and, ironically, would raise the same questions about Trump’s legitimacy that he’s trying to avoid. No details have been released about the possible probe.

Senior adviser Kellyanne Conway told NBC’s “Today” show Thursday that Trump’s call for an investigation is not an “ego issue.” ”I think everybody’s cherry-picking to call this an ego trip,” she said. “Why not have an investigation? What’s everybody afraid of?”

Trump’s own attorneys dismissed claims of voter fraud in a legal filing responding to Green Party candidate Jill Stein’s demand for a recount in Michigan, a state Trump won, late last year. Referring to that outcome, the attorneys wrote: “All available evidence suggests that the 2016 general election was not tainted by fraud or mistake.”

Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said any inquiry should instead be focused on Russian interference in the election, saying: “President Trump’s call for an investigation into his latest conspiracy theory is absurd, even for him.”

Multiple academic studies, and federal judges, have cast doubt on the prevalence of voter fraud, though an argument that should be based on math has frequently divided along partisan lines.

In one often-cited study, Justin Levitt, an election law expert at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, identified just 31 instances of potential impersonation out of more than 1 billion votes cast in general, primary, special and municipal elections throughout the country between 2000 and 2014.

Though there are invariably mistakes, clerical errors and instances of ineligible people allowed to register, “there’s absolutely no information to indicate that there were problems on the scale that he’s alleging,” said Levitt, who later was the Justice Department’s top elections lawyer under former Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

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