Donald Trump the president-elect will not be very different from Donald Trump the nominee, he demonstrated on Sunday, unleashing a stream of unfounded allegations of voter fraud in the election he just won.
Despite the fact that his allegations were widely debunked,Trump clung to them and repeated them in a string of tweets on Sunday in retaliation after the Clinton campaign joined the recount of votes in Wisconsin, ordered on Friday, and possibly Michigan and Pennsylvania.
“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 wrote in a tweet, indicating, as he has before, they were those staying in the US illegally.
He got more specific in a following tweet: “Serious voter fraud in Virginia, New Hampshire and California – so why isn’t the media reporting on this? Serious bias – big problem!” All three states were won by his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.
Trump has presented no evidence to back those allegations and, significantly, as pointed out by critics, he has not even lodged a complaint with election authorities in those states, or demanded a recount similar to one ordered in Wisconsin.
Jill Stein, the presidential nominee of the Green Party, started the recount effort last week in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania citing “evidence of voting anomalies”. Wisconsin allowed it on Friday, and the Clinton campaign joined it the next day.
There is no realistic possibility of the recount reversing the election outcome — Trump won those three states by a combine total of 100,000 votes, and the Clinton campaign harbours no hopes of overcoming that deficit.
Hillary Clinton speaks at a campaign event in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, during the race to the presidential election. (Reuters file)
It has felt compelled to join the recount to address concerns among supporters about outside interference — some computer scientists found discrepancies in Clinton’s vote tallies where electronic machines were used compared to paper ballots.
Speculation about vote manipulation has drawn sustenance mostly from the hacking of the Democratic party headquarters that was traced to Russia. But the Obama administration has completely ruled out outside interference in voting.
But Trump, who is in the middle of deciding on important posts in his cabinet, especially those of the secretaries of state, defense and treasury, jumped in anyway with a Twitter storm reminiscent of the rants and tantrums from his campaign trail.
He had been more restrained in the late stages of the campaign and stayed off it largely since his elections, restricting himself to a few that addressed ongoing protests, meetings, cabinet appointments and messages of a general nature – nothing like the storm he unleashed on Sunday, from his Mar-e-Lago resort in Miami, Florida, where he was for Thanksgiving. His barrage of tweets attracted widespread criticism, most of which was centred on the one point he seemed to have missed — he won.
“We are getting attacked for participating in a recount that we didn’t ask for by the man who won election but thinks there was massive fraud,” Clinton campaign legal counsel Mark Elias, who is dealing with the recount, wrote in a tweet on Sunday night.
Critics also asked that by alleging “millions” voted illegally, is Trump urging election authorities across the country to order large-scale voter recounts and launch fraud investigations?
Trump had moved on to tweeting about Cuba on Monday, and back at Trump Tower where he would return to the process of selecting his cabinet team, which is currently playing out in a full public view, warts and all.
Kellyanne Conway, a senior Trump adviser, has been openly canvassing against Mitt Romney, who Trump is considering for secretary of state, saying, rightly, he had done everything possible to defeat the Republican nominee.
Donald Trump and his campaign manager Kellyanne Conway greet supporters during his election night rally in Manhattan, New York, on November 9. (Reuters file)
She told a Sunday TV news anchor she doubts if Romney even voted for Trump. There are reports that Trump has been “furious” and “annoyed” by her remarks, but she has pushed back, calling them “all false”.
Trump is also said to be considering Rudy Giuliani, a trusted adviser and former New York mayor, for that job and also Senator Bob Corker, former CIA director David Petraeus and retired marine general John Kelly.
But Trump appears to be leaning toward Romney, for now.