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Trump wrongly tells congressional leaders that millions of 'illegals' cost him the popular vote

 (Ron Sachs / Pool Photo)
(Ron Sachs / Pool Photo)

President Trump welcomed congressional leaders to the White House for a reception Monday evening, and the conversation at one point returned to the November election.

Trump told the congressional leaders that he lost the popular vote to Democratic rival Hillary Clinton because millions of "illegals" cast ballots, according to an aide granted anonymity to discuss the private meeting.

Trump told them that 3 million to 5 million "illegals" voted, the aide said.

Of course, there has been no suggestion of widespread voter fraud in the 2016 election, and no belief that immigrants who are in the country illegally voted fraudulently.

Indeed, that kind of fraudulent turnout among the estimated 11 million immigrants in the U.S. illegally would be a stunning development.

While Trump won the electoral college, he lost the popular vote to Clinton by nearly 3 million votes.

The comment was first reported by the Washington Post.

The evening reception in the State Dining Room, with shrimp cocktail and sliders, was billed as a get-to-know-you session with Republican and Democratic leaders of the House and Senate at the start of the new president's administration.

The press pool was ushered in briefly for a photo of the event, and Trump was heard saying, "I do respect the electoral college."

Congressional leaders had no immediate response on their reaction to Trump's claim.

It was part of a long commentary by Trump on how well he did in the election, people familiar with his remarks said.

Asked later Monday if the president said anything surprising, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), the House minority leader, said: "Well, I won’t even go into that."

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) stayed behind for a separate meeting with Trump on the GOP agenda.

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