U.S. President-elect Donald Trump assailed Democrat Hillary Clinton on Sunday for joining an effort to recount votes in three closely contested states that Trump won, recalling that she said during one of their debates that election losers should accept the outcome even when they don't like it.
In his long campaign, the Republican Trump said the election was "rigged" against him, but he is calling Green Party nominee Jill Stein's bid to start recounts in Wisconsin, Michigan and Wisconsin a "scam" and derided Clinton's decision to join the effort. Out of millions of votes cast, Trump won all three states over Clinton — by about 27,000 votes in Wisconsin, 12,000 in Michigan and 68,000 in Pennsylvania — with Stein getting about 1 percent of the vote in each of them.
"Hillary Clinton conceded the election when she called me just prior to the victory speech and after the results were in," Trump said on Twitter. "Nothing will change."
In another tweet, Trump, at his Atlantic oceanfront mansion in Florida, said, "The Democrats, when they incorrectly thought they were going to win, asked that the election night tabulation be accepted. Not so anymore!"
During their third debate, at a point Trump was trailing Clinton in national surveys, he said he would keep everyone in "suspense" whether he would accept the election outcome unless he won.
On Sunday, in a string of tweets, he recalled that Clinton, a former U.S. secretary of state who was looking to become the country's first female president, responded that his equivocation on accepting the outcome was "horrifying," and that "we've accepted the outcomes when we may not have liked them, and that is what must expected of anyone...."
Clinton's campaign had not initiated recount efforts, believing that a recalculation would not reverse the result. But hundreds of her supporters urged her to join Stein's effort in Wisconsin, which it is now doing.
Clinton election campaign lawyer Marc Elias acknowledged Saturday that the requests by Clinton supporters prompted the campaign to quietly start investigating whether there was any "outside interference" in the November 8 election results and would also take part in recounts in Michigan and Pennsylvania if they are also started there.
Elias said no "actionable evidence of hacking or outside attempts to alter the voting technology" has been found. But with Trump's slim victory margins in the three states, coupled with alleged Russian hacking of computer files of a key Clinton campaign official, the Clinton campaign decided to take another look at possible foreign interference in the outcome.
There were ongoing concerns that Russian hackers may try to influence the election, particularly after U.S. officials alleged that they successfully hacked the computer network of the Democratic National Committee and tried to hack voter registration databases. Researchers who investigated the cyber-attacks concluded that Russians created and disseminated fake news about the election, apparently to try to help Trump win.
Stein filed a petition Friday to request the Wisconsin vote recount.
A post on Stein's campaign website called the voting machines used in Wisconsin "highly vulnerable to hacking and malicious programming" and said the machines lacked any security features.
The state must meet a federal deadline of December 13 to complete the recount.
Earlier Friday, Stein said on her website that supporters had raised $5 million for the recount effort and other associated costs, in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. She said the total cost for all three recounts could reach $7 million.
Stein stands to gain little from a recount, since she won just about 1 percent of the popular vote.
The statement on Stein's website said the recount effort wasn't meant to help Hillary Clinton. Rather, the website said the move "is about protecting our democracy."
Election experts say there is almost no chance the election results would be overturned. But with Clinton's national lead in the popular vote now more than two million, any changes to the vote count in her favor could heighten the debate over the legitimacy of Trump's stunning upset win.
U.S. presidential elections are not decided by a national popular vote. Instead, they are decided by individual races in the 50 states and the national capital city, Washington, with each state's importance in the overall outcome weighted by its population. Winning presidential candidates have to amass a majority of 270 votes in the 538-member Electoral College based on the state-by-state results, with the vote winner in each state winning all of that state's electoral votes.
By winning numerous states by relatively narrow margins, Trump won in the Electoral College, 306-232. Clinton would need to prevail in all three of the recount states to reverse the outcome.