The White House has defended Donald Trump’s voter fraud claim, saying that the president believes that millions of people voted illegally in the US election based on “studies and evidence”.
Press secretary Sean Spicer said President Trump “does believe that”, but offered no evidence to support the claim when pressed by reporters.
Donald Trump has repeated his claim to explain why he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton.
However, any notion of widespread voter fraud has been widely rejected.
Sean Spicer told reporters on January 24: “He continues to maintain that belief based on studies and evidence that people have presented to him.”
The press secretary’s comments came after President Trump told congressional leaders behind closed doors on January 23 that three to five million undocumented immigrants had illegally voted in the election.
Donald Trump, who first made the claim in a late November tweet, has never provided any evidence.
Fact-checkers have rejected it as untrue and Republican election officials in key states have said they found no proof of fraudulent voting.
On January 24, the National Association of Secretaries of State said it had confidence in the “systemic integrity of our election process” and was not aware of any evidence related to Donald Trump’s claims.
Hillary Clinton received nearly three million votes more than Donald Trump, who won the presidency by prevailing in so-called swing states.
Republicans admonished Donald Trump and urged him to drop the matter a day after the closed doors meeting with congressional leaders.
Senator Lindsey Graham called the comments “inappropriate”, adding that Donald Trump should “knock this off”.
He continued that President Trump “seems to be obsessed with the idea that he could not have possibly lost the popular vote without cheating and fraud”.
House Speaker Paul Ryan also said there was no evidence to support Donald Trump’s claims.
Republican Pennsylvania Representative Charlie Dent also weighed in, saying Donald Trump needed to move on and “get to the serious business of governing”.
Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders said it was “nonsensical” and he feared Donald Trump was paving the way for Republican governors to “go forward with voter suppression”.