Seemingly in an attempt to boost his extremely fragile ego, President Trump has insisted on multiple occasions that he only lost the popular vote in the 2016 election because millions of people voted illegally. He even created a special commission to try and back up his claims.
While the president’s voter fraud claims have largely been debunked, he does have a different kind of fraud to worry about, as reports released earlier this summer suggest that his victory may have come from falsified votes.
Current and former officials told TIME that hackers who interfered with state and local election databases in 2016 appear to have altered voter information and stolen thousands of voter records.
Two sources familiar with the investigation into connections between the Trump campaign and Russia revealed that investigators are specifically looking into whether or not this stolen information got into the hands of Trump campaign staffers.
Michael Bahar, the former top Democratic staffer on the House Intelligence Committee, told TIME about this new information:
‘If any campaign, Trump or otherwise, used inappropriate data the questions are, How did they get it? From whom? And with what level of knowledge? That is a crux of the investigation.’
Bahar went on to say that, in light of this evidence, the “integrity of the entire system is in question.”
‘So you need the system to push back and find out what happened and why, so it never happens again.’
Anthony Ferrante, a former FBI cybersecurity official and a member of the White House team charged with preparedness and response to cyber intrusion, agreed with Bahar and noted:
‘In addition to the threat to the vote we were also very concerned about the public confidence in the integrity of the electoral system.’
Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean also responded to reports about the scope of the 2016 election hacks and was one of the first to suggest that Trump’s victory came from fake votes.
This is much more serious than previous information. This opens the door to the idea that Trump may have won with falsified votes. https://t.co/zpztrzIybD
— Howard Dean (@GovHowardDean) June 22, 2017
A number of Dean’s followers responded to this tweet and were quick to entertain the possibility that Trump’s victory was illegitimate.
At this point, there’s no concrete proof one way or the other. However, as Mueller’s investigation continues, we’ll surely find out whether or not Trump won the presidency with outside help.