Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina has issued a stern criticism of President Donald Trump's unverified assertions that millions of illegal ballots cast during the presidential election had cost him the popular vote. Graham has called on Trump to either provide evidence for his claims or recant them.
On Jan. 24, Graham blasted Trump for repeating his unsubstantiated belief that millions of illegal voters had voted for his presidential opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, costing him a win in the popular vote.
"To continue to suggest that the 2016 election was conducted in a fashion that millions of people voted illegally undermines faith in our democracy," Graham said, according to The Hill. "It's not coming from a candidate for the office, it's coming from the man who holds the office."
On Jan. 23, Trump asserted during a bipartisan meeting with congressional leaders at the White House that he had been cheated out of the popular vote due to somewhere between 3 million and 5 million illegally cast during the election, The Washington Post reports.
There has been no evidence that widespread voter fraud occurred during the 2016 presidential election. There were only four cases of confirmed voter fraud, two of them committed by self-described Trump supporters who stated that they wanted to prove that the system was rigged against their candidate, during an election that was heavily monitored by election officials and law enforcement.
Graham implored Trump to either produce evidence to back up his claims of widespread voter fraud or to publicly correct the record.
"So I am begging the president, share with us the information you have about this or please stop saying it," Graham continued. "As a matter of fact, I'd like you to do more than stop saying it, I'd like you to come forward and say, 'Having looked at it, I am confident the election was fair and accurate and people who voted voted legally.'"
Graham concluded that if Trump refuses to do so, it would "undermine his ability to govern this country."
The president did indisputably win the Electoral College, the metric that constitutionally decides who assumes the White House. Trump won 304 electoral votes during the election while Clinton garnered only 227.
Despite losing the Electoral College, Clinton won 2.8 million, or 2.1 percent, more raw votes than Trump. Clinton's edge in the popular vote is the third-largest margin for a losing candidate in U.S. history, only behind the popular vote margins of electoral losers Andrew Jackson in 1824 and Samuel Tilden in 1876, according to CNN.
On Nov. 27, 2016, Trump took to social media to assert without evidence that he had actually won the popular vote.
"In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally," Trump said via Twitter.
Graham had blasted that tweet shortly after, telling reporters that he had not been presented with any evidence of widespread voter fraud.
"And if there is not evidence, please stop saying that," Graham said, according to Politico. "You are now the president-elect of the United States. If you really believe that millions of people voted illegally, you should have some proof. Because your voice is not just an ordinary voice."