GOP leader on Trump’s voter fraud claim: Election is ‘history’

Victoria Sarno Jordan

PHILADELPHIA — Senate GOP Conference Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) said Wednesday he’s seen no evidence of rampant voter fraud and declared the 2016 election “history,” just hours after President Trump called for a “major investigation” to see whether millions voted illegally.

“I haven’t seen evidence of that effect,” Thune, the No. 3 Senate Republican, told reporters at the opening of the joint House and Senate GOP issues retreat where Trump is slated to appear.

“All I can tell you is that we had an election. There was a decisive outcome. We have a new president, a new Congress,” Thune continued. “I view the election as history and we’re ready to roll up our sleeves and go to work for the American people.”

Still, Thune said Republicans on Capitol Hill stand ready to help the Trump administration if they pursue an elections probe.

“There are always, reported in most elections, irregularities. The scale of those, I’m not sure what the answer to that is,” Thune said. “If the administration decides to pursue some sort of investigation on that, we will certainly cooperate in any way that they ask for.”

In a private meeting with congressional GOP and Democratic leaders earlier this week, Trump claimed that he would have won the popular vote if 3 million to 5 million “illegals” had not cast ballots in November. But the White House has provided no evidence to back up his assertion, and state and local election officials and experts from both parties have rejected Trump’s claim.

On Wednesday morning, Trump took things further on Twitter, calling for a federal probe of mass voter fraud.

“I will be asking for a major investigation into VOTER FRAUD, including those registered to vote in two states, those who are illegal and even, those registered to vote who are dead (and many for a long time),” he tweeted. “Depending on results, we will strengthen up voting procedures!”

But Trump’s focus on the popular vote and unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud have frustrated some Hill Republicans who say it’s taken the party off message and is distracting them from policy issues, such as ObamaCare.

Speaking alongside Thune, House GOP Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) said she’d wait for more details from Trump before commenting on a possible election probe.

“It’s very important that people have confidence in the elections and the outcome of those elections,” she told reporters. “I’ll wait until the president — until I see more of what he’s proposing before I comment on what his action is going to be.”

Tags Cathy McMorris Rodgers John Thune

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