White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Monday defended President Donald Trump’s baseless claim that “millions and millions of people” voted illegally by saying that “a large number of incidences” of voter fraud were “reported.”
She also seemed to admit, months after the fact, that the White House’s “voter fraud” panel was really an attempt to find evidence for Trump’s baseless claim.
Sanders’ assertion about the “large number” of reports of fraud came during a White House press briefing Monday after a reporter brought up the President’s frequent claim — made most recently in West Virginia last week — that millions of people have voted illegally in the past.
“The President still strongly feels that there was a large amount of voter fraud and [he] attempted to do a thorough review of it, but a lot of the states didn’t want to cooperate and participate,” Sanders said, avoiding the reporter’s question about the factual basis for Trump’s claim.
“We certainly know that there were a large number of incidences reported but we can’t be sure exactly how much because we weren’t able to conduct the full review that the President wanted because a number of states did not want to cooperate and refused to participate,” she added.
The “review” Sanders referenced was the White House’s since-disbanded voter fraud commission, which was created after Trump’s earlier claim of millions of illegal votes in the 2016 election. Dozens of states refused to hand over election data to the group, which the President created with an executive order.
It’s telling that Sanders mentioned the commission, vice chaired by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, while attempting to defend Trump’s claim about illegal voting. When the commission was established, Kobach explicitly said that it was “not set up to disprove or to prove President Trump’s claim, nor is it just looking at the 2016 election.”
The commission met only twice and one of its few Democratic members, Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap, alleged in a lawsuit that he’d been excluded from its operations. Kobach later struggled to defend his own state’s attempt to institute a restrictive voter registration law.
Neither Sanders nor another White House spokesperson responded to TPM’s questions regarding the press secretary’s claims.