Saturday President-elect Donald Trump broke his silence on the multi-state vote-recount effort led by Jill Stein and joined this weekend by Hillary Clinton, another failed 2016 White House candidate, calling the effort “ridiculous” and a scam. Stein, the Green Party candidate, started the effort a couple of days ago to get recounts in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — states that Trump surprisingly won.
Stein has raised $5.8 million toward her goal of $7 million and on Friday made her first official move — requesting a recount in Wisconsin.
“The people have spoken and the election is over,” Trump, a Republican, said Saturday. “We must accept this result and then look to the future. … “This recount is just a way for Jill Stein. … to fill her coffers with money, most of which she will never even spend on this ridiculous recount.”
The Clinton campaign joined the effort, despite Clinton having already conceded the race.
“Now that a recount is underway, we believe we have an obligation to the more than 64 million Americans who cast ballots for Hillary Clinton to participate in ongoing proceedings to ensure that an accurate vote count will be reported,” Hillary for America attorney Marc Erik Elias said on Medium.
Wisconsin law calls for the state to perform a recount at a candidate’s request as long as he or she can pay for it. The state has never performed a presidential recount. Election officials estimate the effort will cost up to $1 million.
Trump and his transition team had been quiet on the recount effort until the Clinton team announced its participation, instead focusing on the latest additions to Trump’s administration.
While there is no evidence of election tampering in the states, Green Party spokesman George Martin insisted “the American public needs to have it investigated to make sure our votes count.”
Clinton, who was the Democratic presidential nominee, leads the national popular vote by close to 2 million votes. Trump scored narrow victories in key battleground states, however, giving him the necessary 270 electoral votes to assume the presidency.
While Trump won in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, he holds a slim lead in Michigan, where a Republican presidential candidate hadn’t won since 1988.
The Associated Press still hasn’t officially called that race, but Trump’s 10,704-vote lead was expected to be certified by the state elections board Monday. The deadline to ask for a recount is Wednesday.
Trump leads by little more than 22,000 votes in Wisconsin. State administrator Michael Haas cited recount requests by Stein and independent candidate Rocky De La Fuente when he announced Friday that the recount was expected to be completed by the Dec. 13 federal deadline.
“As Hillary Clinton herself said on election night, in addition to her conceding by congratulating me, ‘We must accept this result and then look to the future,’ ” Trump also said Saturday. “This is a scam by the Green Party for an election that has already been conceded.”
There is no evidence that the results were hacked or that electronic voting machines were compromised.
Any attempted hack to swing the results in three states would have been a massive and unprecedented undertaking. But electoral security was an issue that loomed large in many Americans’ minds this year, considering emails from the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee were hacked and made public by WikiLeaks.
Clinton privately and publically conceded the Nov. 8 race to Trump, purportedly at President Obama’s urging.
Elias said the decision to join in the recount came after numerous meetings with experts.
He also said the Clinton campaign has received “hundreds of messages, emails and calls urging us to do something, anything, to investigate claims that the election results were hacked and altered in a way to disadvantage Secretary Clinton.
Elias also said that the campaign has taken those concerns “extremely seriously and “understand the heartbreak felt by so many who worked so hard to elect Hillary Clinton.”