Donald Trump appears to be incapable of letting go of the delusion that he only lost the popular vote because of voter fraud, and he just threw more fuel on the fire:
This tweet will only make sense if you are deep in the weeds of internet conspiracy theories. As PolitiFact explained back in November, when this rumor was first circulating, VoteStand is an app that purports to help people “track” voter fraud (it has a grand total of six reviews in Apple’s app store). Phillips’s Twitter profile indicates he is the “founder” of that app and a board member of True the Vote, an organization dedicated to exposing the supposedly rampant voter fraud that a number of rigorous investigations, including a concerted and motivated effort by George W. Bush’s Justice Department administration, have failed to turn up.
After the election, Phillips gained viral attention from some explosive-seeming tweets:
As PolitiFact, the Daily Beast, and other outlets have noted, Phillips, a former executive deputy commissioner at Texas’s Health and Human Services Commission who was embroiled in corruption allegations there, has not provided any evidence to back up his assertion. Two and a half months later, we know nothing about his methods, and there is no sign of True the Vote having initated legal action. Moreover, Phillips launched his claims well before some states had even certified their results. That didn’t stop those claims from getting picked up by Alex Jones’s conspiracy-theory cauldron Infowars, where an article by Paul Joseph Watson — “Report: Three Million Votes in Presidential Election Cast by Illegal Aliens” — helped amplify them greatly, especially after the piece got picked up by the Drudge Report.
Since Trump first floated his “3 million” number, several journalists have pointed out the very high likelihood that it came from Phillips, given that Trump is a known gonzo-news connoisseur and a fan of Jones and his site (though the White House has denied Jones’s claim he was offered press credentials there). In public, though, Trump and his staff have generally instead referenced two studies from mainstream sources, one from Pew and one from Old Dominion University researchers, to support the claim, despite the fact that neither study does so. As of two days ago, the Daily Beast said that Phillips was the “apparent source” of Trump’s belief — there was still a bit of uncertainty.
So Trump’s tweet this morning marks a shift: He’s acknowledging explicitly that the basis for his belief in a massive, unprecedented voter-fraud episode is a couple of tweets from a questionable source — tweets that have never been backed up in any way with solid evidence.