The supposed source for President Donald Trump’s claim that 3 million to 5 million illegal votes were cast in the 2016 election has announced that he may release the names of those voters.
“If I had my druthers, and they said, ‘Gregg, you can release your list or you can give it to [the Department of Justice],’ I’d instantly agree to give it over to DOJ. They could bump it up against the Homeland Security file,” Gregg Phillips told the Daily Beast on Tuesday. “There’s a group of us who don’t think we should release the names at all.”
Phillips said that, as of now, releasing the names is what he intends to do.
Phillips, a former Texas Health and Human Services Commission deputy commissioner, gained attention in November when he tweeted that he had proof that 3 million votes were cast illegally. President Donald Trump has since used Phillips’ claim as evidence for his allegations of a skewed popular vote count.
Now Phillips, on the heels of Trump once again touting voter fraud and calling for an investigation, says he may make the names of those illegal voters public by publishing them online. But there’s a hitch — according to the Daily Beast, no one has seen the data but Phillips himself.
That “evidence” could include the data Phillips claimed to have a week after the election, which gained legendary viral notoriety on the right. The Washington Post‘s Philip Bump called Phillips’ tweet “Donald Trump’s new explanation for losing the popular vote” back in November.
Here’s the problem: No one has seen any of the data, nor the algorithm Phillips and his group have put it through, let alone confirmed if it’s even possible for any part of it to be true.
When the election results were finally tallied, Hillary Clinton had won the popular vote by almost 3 million votes. Green Party candidate Jill Stein soon thereafter began a doomed effort to recount votes in battleground states in an ostensible attempt to prove Clinton’s popularity with the American voters and to draw attention to problems with the Electoral College system.
Phillips’ tweet came a day after the official popular vote count was confirmed but before Stein launched her recount effort. His tweet sent Trump on a multi-week quest to bring the notion of illegal votes out into the open, culminating Wednesday with his call for an investigation.
According to the Daily Beast, Trump’s recent claims of “3-to-5 million” illegal voters seems to match with Phillips’ original estimates:
That matches up nearly with Phillips’s November claim to “have verified more than three million votes cast by non-citizens,” adding that “we are joining .@TrueTheVote to initiate legal action.#unrigged.”
His two tweets on the subject quickly went viral on far-right-wing and conspiracy sites, racking up over 10,000 retweets. An InfoWars story based on his tweet reached the top of right-wing news aggregator The Drudge Report, which in July had more than a billion readers.
Phillips said he intends to release all of the information he has gathered to back his claim, including the analysis and full data set. He did not, however, provide a time frame or share the data set or algorithm used to establish voter fraud with the Daily Beast. He indicated that part of the delay is a desire to conduct an “internal audit” to avoid erroneously charging someone with “felony voter fraud.”
“I committed from the outset to publish all of this data to the public. I’m gonna let the public see everything we’ve done. Our analysis, everything, will be published. We will also give copies to the federal government,” Phillips told the Daily Beast.
The data set his group is working with came from True the Vote, according to Phillips. True the Vote is associated with the Tea Party group King Street Patriots. Both King Street Patriots and True the Vote were founded by Texas Republican organizer Catherine Engelbrecht, who was one of the individuals associated with Tea Party groups the IRS targeted under President Barack Obama.
Engelbrecht told the Daily Beast that she’s “confident the president has data to support his contentions” but added that the president is not citing True the Vote’s data nor Phillips’ data.