Republicans are not on board with Trump's "voter fraud" investigation

The president is relying on Gregg Phillips, who told CNN he has proof of voter fraud, but wouldn't show any

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published January 27, 2017 1:46PM (EST)

 (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

President Donald Trump may want an investigation into alleged voter fraud surrounding the 2016 presidential election, but many of his fellow Republicans definitely do not.

"For a variety of political and logistical reasons — but mostly political — Congress will almost definitely not have Trump’s back," The Washington Post reported.

On Wednesday, House Speaker Paul Ryan told MSNBC that "we haven't been discussing" the voter investigation with President Trump, while the head of the House Oversight Committee, Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz, said "the president has 100,000 people at the Department of Justice and if he wants to have an investigation, have at it."

There would be a number of risks for Republicans in launching a voter fraud investigation, including undermining the 31 Republican gubernatorial secretaries of state, raising further doubts about Trump's own legitimacy, distracting Congress from more pressing issues and the possibility that an investigation might uncover something totally unknown that makes the GOP look bad.

That said, a truly nonpartisan and unbiased investigation would force the government to inspect how disemboweling the Voting Rights Act of 2016, as well as the various discriminatory laws passed in GOP-controlled states to discourage Democratic voting, may have impacted the election in Trump's favor. It could also inspire investigators to look further into allegations of Russian hacking, which Trump has already clearly demonstrated he'd prefer to avoid.

This hasn't stopped Trump from continuing to push the unverified notion that his loss in the popular vote was due to voter fraud.

There is no evidence whatsoever that voting fraud could account for Trump losing the popular vote to Hillary Clinton. Even the discredited study that Trump keeps citing to make his case doesn't lead to the conclusion that he won the popular vote. As explained by Professor Jesse Richman of Old Dominion University, who co-authored that study, if his original estimate about the rate of non-citizen voter fraud was correct, it would have only added between 800,000 and 900,000 votes to Clinton's total — meaning she still would have won the popular vote by a margin of roughly 2 million.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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