- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 26, 2017

After talking about voter fraud all week, President Trump abruptly postponed a scheduled ceremony Thursday in which he was to have signed an executive order calling for a government investigation into illegal voting.

White House aides announced the postponement of the event in late afternoon, after Mr. Trump returned to Washington from Philadelphia, where he had spoken at the congressional Republicans’ annual retreat.

“The president got back a little late, and he got jammed up on some meetings that needed to occur,” said White House press secretary Sean Spicer. “We’re going to roll all [of the executive-order signings] into Friday and Saturday.”

Mr. Trump also is expected to sign an executive action soon that would restrict refugee admissions to the U.S. from “terror-prone” regions in the Middle East and North Africa.

A draft of the order on refugees states that the U.S. would block refugees from war-torn Syria immediately and suspend the granting of visas to people from countries that the administration considers security risks.

At the event in Philadelphia, Mr. Trump doubled down on his claims that voter fraud is a critical problem.

“We also need to keep the ballot box safe from illegal voting,” he told lawmakers. “Believe me, you take a look at what’s registering, folks.”

The president said in an interview Wednesday that he intends to order a wide-ranging investigation, after alleging that illegal voting in November gave Democrat Hillary Clinton 3 million to 5 million extra votes. She won the popular vote by nearly 3 million ballots, but Mr. Trump captured the decisive Electoral College vote, 306-232.

Although the White House said the signing ceremony was merely postponed, some top Republican lawmakers, including House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, expressed concern that voter fraud is not significant and that the issue is distracting from the legislative agenda they share with the president.

But Mr. Trump told ABC News on Wednesday that “there’s nothing bigger” than the problem of illegal voting.

“We’re going to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” the president said. “If people are registered wrongly, if illegals are registered to vote, which they are, if dead people are registered to vote and voting, which they do. The other side is trying to downplay this. But I believe it did happen. And I believe a part of the vote would’ve been much different. We will find out because we need a better system where that can’t happen.”

Rep. John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, and Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Cedric Richmond, Louisiana Democrat, told Mr. Trump in a letter Thursday that any voter fraud probe should be conducted by a “non-partisan independent body” and should focus on voter suppression in the wake of the 2013 Supreme Court decision that scaled back federal oversight under the Voting Rights Act.

“I was shocked to learn that even after taking the oath of office as president, Mr. Trump would choose to spread untruths and misinformation concerning allegations of voter fraud,” Mr. Conyers said. “Repeated investigations have failed to uncover material issues in federal elections. There is, however, evidence of extensive voter suppression practices aimed at minority voters, which is backed up by active litigation.”

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