Donald Trump's Bogus Claim He Won the Popular Vote Can Be Traced Back to an Alex Jones-Backed Theory

Election '16

President-elect Donald Trump, clearly tormented over the fact that he won the presidency without receiving the most popular votes, has resorted to peddling conspiracy theories from the unproven conspiracy section of the internet.

This claim has been popularized by Alex Jones, a conspiracy theorist who believes in a “Jewish mafia” that wants to hurt Americans. Last week, he claimed through his site InfoWars that “3 million votes in the U.S. presidential election were cast by illegal aliens, according to Greg Phillips of the organization. If true, this would mean that Donald Trump still won the contest despite widespread vote fraud and almost certainly won the popular vote.”

The only source provided for this bold claim was a pair of tweets by a man named Gregg Phillips.

There is no getting around one fact: unless Phillips provides any evidence backing up his tweets, they are categorically false, and the only responsible and accurate way to report them is as lies.

As PolitiFact explained November 18, Phillips not only isn’t affiliated with (as Jones claimed), but he has refused to provide any additional information that could verify or disprove his assertions. Phillips has even refused to say what his data says or where it has come from, only promising to release the information publicly once he has finished analyzing it. Until then, individuals like Trump and Jones who embrace his claims are doing so based solely on the man’s word.

PolitiFact also found that based on his LinkedIn page, Phillips’ previous professional experience is in Republican Party politics in Alabama and Mississippi, as well as serving as managing director of a super PAC that pushed for Newt Gingrich’s 2012 presidential campaign.

PolitiFact has ranked the Trump/Jones argument as "false." Other election law experts are joining in to do likewise.

“There’s no reason to believe this is true,” said Rick Hasen, a professor specializing in election law at the UC Irvine, in an interview with Politico on Sunday. “The level of fraud in U.S. elections is quite low.”

Hasen added, “The problem of non-citizen voting is quite small; like we’re talking claims in the dozens, we’re not talking voting in the millions, or the thousands, or even the hundreds.”

David Becker, executive director of the Center for Election Innovation & Research and a former senior trial attorney in the Voting Section of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, was particularly colorful in illustrating the absurdity of the Trump/Jones conspiracy theory.

“We know historically that this almost never happens,” Becker told Politico. “You’re more likely to get eaten by a shark that simultaneously gets hit by lightning than to find a non-citizen voting.”

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