President Donald Trump has revived groundless claims of voter fraud, arguing in a lunch meeting with senators that he and former Republican senator Kelly Ayotte would have won in New Hampshire if not for voters bused in from out of state.
A GOP official with knowledge of Thursday’s lunch conversation described the president’s comments. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because it was a private meeting.
There is no evidence of people being improperly bused into New Hampshire to vote.
Ayotte was present for the meeting at the White House with a bipartisan group of 10 senators because she is working with Judge Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, to shepherd him around Capitol Hill for meetings. The discussion at Thursday’s lunch partly involved Gorsuch’s nomination as Trump looks for eight Democratic votes to get him over a procedural hurdle in the Senate.
In the course of the conversation Trump had a lighthearted exchange with Ayotte, who withdrew her support from Trump during last year’s campaign after audio emerged of him boasting about groping women. Trump said he wished Ayotte had endorsed him like she’d endorsed Gorsuch and also made the comments about voting in New Hampshire.
“There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever of major voter fraud in New Hampshire’s elections,” Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., said in a statement. “President Trump continues to spread a dangerous lie and it’s long past time for Republican leadership in New Hampshire to stand up and defend our state’s electoral system.”
Trump’s comments were first reported by Politico.
It’s the second time Trump has used a bipartisan meeting with lawmakers to make erroneous claims about voter fraud. Last month, during a bipartisan congressional leadership meeting at the White House, he claimed that he would have won the popular vote if not for 3 million to 5 million immigrants in the country illegally voting for his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.
There is also no evidence of that. Trump recently vowed to set up a White House commission helmed by Vice President Mike Pence to pursue his claims of election fraud.
Trump’s specific comments about voter fraud in New Hampshire are similar to those made by Gov. Chris Sununu on a radio show before the election.
As a guest on the Howie Carr Show at the end of October, Sununu answered a question about New Hampshire’s long run of Democratic governors by accusing New Hampshire Democrats of changing election laws and participating in voter fraud by using same-day registration.
“The Democrats are very sly,” Sununu said, before saying state Democrats changed election laws in the late 1990s or early 2000s to accommodate same-day voter registration. And when elections in neighboring Massachusetts are not close, Democrats are “busing them in all over the place” and picking a phony address for people to use for same-day registration, Sununu said.
“There’s no doubt there’s election fraud,” he said. “I don’t want to use ‘rigged’ – that’s the word you’re not supposed to use anymore – but they have really gamed the system to their advantage.”
PolitiFact New Hampshire fact checked Sununu’s claim and rated it Pants on Fire due to an utter lack of evidence.