In his calls for an investigation into alleged voter fraud, Donald Trump has insisted that 3 to 5 million people voted illegally in the 2016 election. And he has now revealed that the source for those numbers is Gregg Phillips, a right-wing poll watcher who has explicitly refused to provide any evidence for his claims of voter fraud.
Donald Trump continues to cling to his lie, contradicted by his own lawyers' past statements, that he only lost the popular vote because upwards of 3 million people illegally cast ballots in the 2016 election. And plans to launch a full investigation into these baseless claims on the taxpayers' dime.
After dodging press questions to provide evidence, Trump finally revealed his source in an early-morning tweet:
Look forward to seeing final results of VoteStand. Gregg Phillips and crew say at least 3,000,000 votes were illegal. We must do better!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 27, 2017
According to his Twitter bio, Gregg Phillips is the founder of VoteStand, described on its website as "America’s first online election fraud reporting app," and is a board member of True the Vote, a Texas-based Tea Party affiliate group known for practicing systematic voter intimidation of minorities.
He has also held, from the late 1980s through the mid 2000s, various positions in Republican politics, including finance director of the Alabama Republican Party, executive director of the Mississippi Republican Party, and executive deputy commissioner for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.
Phillips has a history of making exceedingly bizarre claims, including that Green Party candidate Dr. Jill Stein supports "genocide through abortion," that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services should be abolished, and that he had to flee to Ireland and Germany to avoid being killed by the FDA.
And this is the man on whom Trump is relying as his source for the claim of "at least" 3 million "illegal" votes in 2016.
Phillips claims to have run an algorithm on the data collected by his VoteStand app which reveals widespread voter fraud all over the country. But he has refused thus far to provide any information on this algorithm or release any of his data to the media:
And in an interview on CNN with Chris Cuomo, Phillips appeared to walk back his claim that he had even verified the 3 million figure at all:
PHILLIPS: We began this effort years and years ago. We have developed a database of 189 million voting records. We've augmented that database with everything from geocoding to all sorts of identifying information. We've developed algorithms that allow us to first, verify identity, we can verify residency, we can verify citizenship, felon status, and all of the other factors that go into making a legal registered voter.
CUOMO: So, you have the proof?
CUOMO: Because when you tweeted those things and the media came to you about it, and you said, 'Hold on, this is just a tweet. I'm just some guy. I haven't proven it yet. This is what I think I'll be able to do in the future.' Right? You did say that.
PHILLIPS: Well, I don't think I ever said that, I think. I mean, our —
CUOMO: But you hadn't done it yet, is what I'm saying. When you initially tweeted it, you admitted you hadn't done it yet.
PHILLIPS: No, that's not correct.
CUOMO: Because that's not what is picked up in The Statesman, in an interview.
PHILLIPS: Well, The Statesman was wrong, as is often the case. Our concerns all along were simply that what we're talking about here is, we're going to — should we push this out there, we're talking about accusing 3 million people of multiple felonies. It's a federal felony to register to vote and it's a federal felony to vote. So if we jumped out there with just our initial analysis rather than refining it and quality checking it, we'd be out there with accusing potentially some people that really aren't committing felonies.
CUOMO: Well, how did you not do that in your first tweet? Just as a matter of fact, you said we know that 3 million illegally voted. You did that.
PHILLIPS: We didn't name a soul, though. We didn't name a person.
CUOMO: And you still haven't.
PHILLIPS: But we will.
CUOMO: Do you have the proof?
CUOMO: Will you provide it.
CUOMO: Can I have it?
PHILLIPS: We're not, we're — the rest of the tweets, there was a whole series. Those were taken slightly out of context, but one of the key tweets that we have stuck with all along is: We're going to release all of this to the public, we're going to release our methodology and release the broad data and our conclusions, and we're going to release everything to the public.
PHILLIPS: As soon as we get done with the checks.
Phillips says that he has run his "algorithm" but not yet verified its results, but then says he has "proof" of voter fraud.
Notably, when he first made his claim on Twitter, he did not attach any qualifiers to it; he said he had "verified" 3 million non-citizens had voted and had "completed analysis."
Phillips, in short, not only cannot reveal his evidence for voter fraud; he cannot even keep his story straight about whether he has confirmed his own data.
If the President of the United States is going to launch major federal investigations on the basis of sources like this, our country is in serious trouble.