President Donald Trump will not sign an executive order initiating an investigation into voter fraud Thursday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said, hours after telling press on Air Force One that the signing would happen once Trump returned to Washington from Philadelphia.
Trump will instead sign the executive order on voter fraud either on Friday or Saturday instead, Spicer said, adding Trump will also sign actions on immigration and national security.
“It will be a follow-up to the announcement yesterday (inaudible) to better understand voter fraud,” Spicer told reporters earlier in the day. When asked what the executive order would specifically include, Spicer said Trump is continuing to work with his senior team on the final details. But a senior White House official told CNN on Wednesday that the probe would likely be carried out through Trump’s Justice Department.
Trump tweeted Wednesday morning that he would launch an investigation into instances of voter fraud, two days after he told congressional leaders of both parties that he believed as many as 5 million illegal votes were cast in the 2016 election.
“I will be asking for a major investigation into VOTER FRAUD, including those registered to vote in two states, those who are illegal and … even, those registered to vote who are dead (and many for a long time). Depending on results, we will strengthen up voting procedures!” Trump wrote.
While Trump did not specifically say what states would be investigated, Spicer alluded to California when a reporter noted that the president’s own lawyers said in a legal filing involving recounts in parts of the Midwest that there was no evidence suggesting voter fraud, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“There’s a lot of states that we didn’t compete in where that’s not necessarily the case,” Spicer said in response, according to the Times. “You look at California and New York…. A lot of these issues could have occurred in bigger states; that’s where I think we are going to look.”
Neither Trump nor the White House have offered any evidence to back up those claims, which experts say are completely unsubstantiated.
Trump has faced widespread criticism for his remarks, including from some congressional leaders in his own party. Democrats have alleged that Republican efforts in the name of fighting voter fraud has the effect of preventing or delaying legal voters who traditionally back Democratic candidates.
Jason Chafettz, the Republican head of the House Oversight Committee, told reporters on Thursday he doesn’t “see any evidence” of voter fraud.
“But the President has 100,000 people at the Department of Justice, and if he wants to have an investigation, have at it,” Chaffetz added. “I just don’t see any evidence of it.”
The White House’s announcement that Trump would sign an executive order on the matter came as Trump was flying to Philadelphia to join a Republican congressional retreat where the White House and Capitol Hill Republicans will look to align their agendas and formulate plans for major legislative goals in the coming weeks and months.
But those discussions now fall against the backdrop of the President’s unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud in the election that made him president and the investigation he has said he plans to launch into the matter.
California Secretary of State: Voter Fraud Claims ‘Dangerous’
In an interview Wednesday, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla labeled Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud “dangerous.”
Padilla said that creating doubt about America’s free and fair election is “taking a jackhammer to the bedrock of our democracy.”
Speaking to CNN’s John Berman and Kate Bolduan, Democrat Padilla said allegations of 3 to 5 million cases of voter fraud nationwide in November’s election were “impossible” and expressed concern over Trump’s motives.
“My concern, as elections administrator, is he’s simply setting the tone for any policy changes that will go further backwards as it pertains to voting rights.”
“We already have needless barriers to voter registration, needless barriers to the ballot box for eligible voters not just in California but around the country,” he added.
Padilla said there were no cases of irregularities of which he has been made aware.
Later on CNN’s “OutFront with Erin Burnett” he said the amount of fraud is “minuscule.”
“It’s frankly minuscule, and it’s not just a wild guess here. We have had a request for recounts in recent years whether it’s a very closely contested congressional race, or a state legislative race, or maybe local city council, or mayor’s race,” he told Burnett. “And whenever we get to that recount and going through the very thorough protocols, a couple, a handful, single-digit difference, maybe.”
“So it’s not going to make a dent in that significant margin that President Trump lost by in California,” he said.