This week, President Donald Trump returned to a baseless claim he’d advanced before ― that there was widespread voter fraud in the 2016 presidential election. As recently as December, though, Trump’s own lawyers insisted there wasn’t a trace of it.
The statement from Trump’s lawyers came in a Dec. 1 filing during a recount in Michigan requested by Green Party candidate Jill Stein. In the filing, Trump’s lawyers insisted that Stein wasn’t entitled to a recount because there wasn’t actually any fraud.
“On what basis does Stein seek to disenfranchise Michigan citizens? None really, save for speculation. All available evidence suggests that the 2016 general election was not tainted by fraud or mistake,” Trump’s lawyers wrote.
Stein, they added, was trying to delegitimize the electoral process, and was calling for a recount that was a waste of time.
Don McGahn, one of the lawyers listed on the filing, has been appointed by Trump to serve as White House counsel.
This Tuesday, the White House said that Trump still believes there is widespread voter fraud in the United States ― a wild claim for which there is no evidence.
“The president does believe that. He has stated that before. I think he’s stated his concerns of voter fraud and people voting illegally during the campaign and continues to maintain that belief based on studies and evidence that people have presented to him,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer said. “I think the president has believed that for a while, based on studies and information he has.”
Multiple studies have found voter fraud to be extremely rare, and fraud on the scale that Trump is alleging would be extraordinarily difficult to accomplish. Despite that, Trump has called for investigations into voter fraud ― even though earlier investigations have produced minuscule evidence of it.