The White House, major U.S. media outlets and fact checkers are dismissing President-elect Donald Trump's claim that "millions of people" voted illegally in the November 8 election he won.
In Twitter posts Sunday, the Republican Trump claimed that he would have defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton in the nationwide popular vote "if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally." Later, he called into question the results in three states he lost to Clinton without offering any evidence.
"Serious voter fraud in Virginia, New Hampshire and California — so why isn't the media reporting on this? Serious bias — big problem!" Trump said.
But White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Monday there has been "no evidence produced to substantiate" Trump's claims.
Major news media outlets, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and others, all said Trump's claims were baseless, while election experts said there is scant evidence of vote fraud in U.S. elections.
The Post's fact-checker said the president-elect's contention "is a bogus claim with no documented proof." Trump's tweets alleging massive illegal immigrant voting appear to stem from unsubstantiated reports produced days after the election by right-wing conspiracists in the U.S. that 3 million undocumented immigrants cast ballots, even though only U.S. citizens are allowed to vote.
Another fact-checker, Politifact, said that without documentation to support the claim, "We rate it false."
Trump will take office January 20 because he won a majority under the Electoral College system used to choose presidents in the United States, despite currently trailing Clinton in the popular vote by more than 2.2 million. The margin is likely to grow with votes still being counted in California, the Pacific coastal state she won.
"It appears that Mr. Trump is troubled by the fact that a growing majority of Americans did not vote for him," said Alex Padilla, a Democrat and California's top election official. "His unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud in California and elsewhere are absurd. His reckless tweets are inappropriate and unbecoming of a president-elect."
Republican Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma said Monday that he had "not seen any voter irregularity in the millions."
U.S. presidential elections 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 the presidency in the Electoral College, 306-232, while Clinton, by piling up a huge vote advantage in California and New York, leads the national popular vote.
Trump voiced annoyance in recent days that Clinton, after conceding the election, has joined Green Party nominee Jill Stein in supporting a vote recount in the midwestern state of Wisconsin, where Trump defeated Clinton by about 27,000 votes and Stein received about one percent of the vote. Stein's campaign also petitioned Pennsylvania officials Monday to start a recount in the eastern state, where Trump prevailed by about 69,000 votes.
Stein, with Clinton's support, could also contest the outcome in Michigan, where Trump won by about 11,000 votes.
Trump spokesman Jason Miller said Monday that it is "ridiculous wasting oxygen" on recounts, calling it a fundraising "scam by Jill Stein in an election already conceded."
Clinton would have to overturn the outcome in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania to win the presidency in the Electoral College, but her aides have acknowledged that the margin in all three states is greater than has ever been overcome in a presidential recount.
There were ongoing concerns that Russian hackers might 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.
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.
After spending the Thanksgiving holiday at his Atlantic oceanfront mansion in Florida, Trump returned Sunday to his New York home in Trump Tower.
He is meeting Monday with more policy advisers and possible candidates for appointments in his new administration.
Among Trump's visitors is former Central Intelligence Agency chief David Petraeus, a possible contender to be secretary of state.
The president-elect is also considering others to be the country's top diplomat, including Mitt Romney, the losing 2012 Republican presidential nominee who was a fierce critic of Trump's in the lengthy presidential campaign, Tennessee Senator Bob Corker, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton.
Long-time Trump supporters, including Kellyanne Conway, his campaign manager and now an adviser, have waged a campaign against picking Romney, saying that he went out of his way to disparage Trump's campaign and should not now be rewarded with appointment to the highest profile foreign affairs job.