President Donald Trump, furthering his lie Wednesday that he lost the election’s popular vote because millions cast ballots illegally, attacked the author of a study that failed to support fraud claims as “groveling.”
Trump and his administration frequently cite a 2012 Pew study in support of his unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud. But the author, David Becker, has said that Trump’s team misconstrued his paper and that researchers found no cases of voter fraud.
When told by ABC News anchor David Muir that the study failed to show voter fraud, Trump responded by immediately attacking the author for “groveling.”
Trump used the same term to attack a disabled New York Times reporter, Serge Kovaleski, in 2015.
Here’s the president’s full exchange with Muir:
MUIR: What you have been presented so far has been debunked. It has been called false.
TRUMP: Take a look at the Pew reports.
MUIR: I called the author of the Pew report last night and he told me that they found no evidence of voter fraud.
TRUMP: Really, then why did he write the report?
MUIR: He said no evidence of voter fraud.
TRUMP: Excuse me, then why did he write the report? According to Pew report, then he’s groveling again. You know, I always talk about the reporters. They grovel when they wanna write something that you wanna hear, but not necessarily millions of people wanna hear or have to hear.
The Pew study focused on outdated voter rolls, which showed people still registered to vote after dying or moving. It found no evidence of people actually voting illegally.
Despite the lack of evidence, Trump has repeatedly claimed he lost the popular vote because 3 million to 5 million “illegals” voted in the November election. He repeated the lie in his first meeting with congressional leaders at the White House on Monday. On Wednesday, he announced a “major investigation” into voter fraud.
“Of those votes cast, none of ‘em come to me. None of ‘em come to me. They would all be for the other side,” Trump told Muir. “But when you look at the people who are registered — dead, illegal and two states, and some cases, maybe three states — we have a lot to look into.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said on Wednesday he supported Trump’s investigation, while admitting there was no evidence of “this kind of widespread numbers that we have been hearing about.”
“I’m sure there is some fraud,” Ryan told MSNBC. “If he believes that there is a problem to be looked at, the right thing is to get an investigation to get the facts.”
Trump’s basis for believing the election was plagued by widespread voter fraud, like much of his reasoning, seems based on questionable and exaggerated anecdotes.
The New York Times reported on Wednesday that Trump told congressional leaders at Monday’s meeting that a friend, the German golf champion Bernhard Langer, had complained to him about a crowd of “voters who did not look as if they should be allowed to vote” at his Florida polling place. Trump then “threw out the names of Latin American countries that the voters might have come from,” according to the paper.
Langer’s daughter disputed the story. She told the Times that Langer isn’t a U.S. citizen, so he was ineligible to vote in the election. And, she added, he “is not a friend of President Trump’s, and I don’t know why he would talk about him.”
This article has been updated to include the Bernhard Langer anecdote reported by The New York Times.