Donald Trump claims millions voted illegally as he attacks push for recount

President-Elect Donald Trump

Donald Trump has claimed without evidence that “millions” voted illegally in the presidential election and said it was rigged even as he prepares to enter the White House.

The president-elect scoffed at his rival Hillary Clinton’s near two million lead in the popular vote, as he attacked efforts to force recounts in three key battleground states.

The billionaire tycoon and his lieutenants called the recount push the work of “crybabies” and, in Mr Trump’s estimation, “sad”.

He launched a Twitter offensive that lasted more than 12 hours on Sunday, casting a shadow over the legitimacy of an election that he actually won.

“I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally,” he tweeted in the afternoon before alleging in an evening tweet “serious voter fraud in Virginia, New Hampshire and California”.

There has been no indication of widespread vote manipulation, illegal voting or hacking that materially affected the outcome one way or the other. It is that very lack of evidence that suggests Mr Trump is likely to prevail in recounts.

Mr Trump also tweeted part of Mrs Clinton’s concession speech, when she told supporters they must accept that “Donald Trump is going to be our president”.

And he drew attention to snippets from her debate remarks, when she denounced the Republican nominee for refusing to say in advance that he would accept the election verdict.

This came on top of him saying it was a “scam” that Green Party nominee Jill Stein was revisiting the vote count in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

Mr Trump won Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, and as of Wednesday, held a lead of almost 11,000 votes in Michigan, with the results awaiting state certification on Monday. His Michigan margin was a tiny 0.22% of the state’s votes.

Mrs Clinton leads the national popular vote by close to two million votes, but Mr Trump won 290 electoral votes to her 232, not counting Michigan. She could conceivably tip the electoral balance in the remote event that all switched to her in recounts.

Mr Trump was mostly silent on the recount effort until it became known that Mrs Clinton would join it, at least in Wisconsin.

On Saturday, a day after Wisconsin officials said they would conduct the first presidential recount in the state’s history, Mrs Clinton’s campaign lawyer Marc Elias said: “We intend to participate in order to ensure the process proceeds in a manner that is fair to all sides.”

He said Mrs Clinton would take the same approach in Pennsylvania and Michigan if Ms Stein were to follow through with recount requests in those states.

That loosened Mr Trump’s tongue.

“Hillary Clinton conceded the election when she called me just prior to the victory speech and after the results were in,” he tweeted on Sunday. “Nothing will change.”

Senior Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway said Ms Stein, “the Hillary people” and others supporting recounts have to decide whether they are going to back a peaceful transition “or if they’re going to be a bunch of crybabies and sore losers about an election that they can’t turn around”.

Mr Trump returned to New York on Sunday evening after spending Thanksgiving weekend at his West Palm Beach, Florida, estate amid increasing infighting over who should be chosen for the most important White House job.

Ms Conway attacked the prospect of her boss making Mitt Romney his secretary of state, after friction during the election between Mr Trump and the 2012 Republican Party nominee.

Trump supporters “feel a bit betrayed that you can get a Romney back in there after everything he did” she said: “We don’t even know if he voted for Donald Trump. He and his consultants were nothing but awful to Donald Trump for a year.”

Ms Conway said she was “reflecting what the grassroots are saying” adding: “I’m all for party unity, but I’m not sure we have to pay for that with the secretary of state position.”

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