WASHINGTON — Days after being sworn in, President Donald Trump insisted to congressional leaders invited to a reception at the White House that he would have won the popular vote had it not been for millions of illegal votes, according to people familiar with the meeting.
Trump has repeatedly claimed, without evidence, that widespread voter fraud caused him to lose the popular vote to Hillary Clinton, even while he clinched the presidency with an electoral college victory.
Two people familiar with the meeting said Trump spent about 10 minutes at the top of the gathering with Republican and Democratic lawmakers rehashing the campaign. Trump also told them that between 3 million and 5 million illegal votes caused him to lose the popular vote.
The discussion about Trump’s election victory and his claim that he would have won the popular vote was confirmed by a third person familiar with the meeting.
The claim is not supported by any verifiable facts, and analyses of the election found virtually no confirmed cases of voter fraud, let alone millions.
Clinton won the popular vote by more than 2.8 million votes. Trump won 306 electoral college votes to Clinton’s 227.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., alluded to Trump’s comments as he returned to the Capitol from the meeting on Monday night.
“We talked about different electoral college, popular vote going through the different ones,” McCarthy said. “Well, we talked about going back though past elections. Everyone in there goes though elections and stuff so everybody’s giving their different histories of different parts.”
Asked by reporters after the meeting if Trump made any surprising statements at the gathering, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi replied: “Well, I won’t even go into that.”