New York Times brands Donald Trump a liar

Newspaper says US President-elect has 'disregard for indisputable facts' and 'feels threatened' by losing popular vote

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The New York Times has publicly accused Donald Trump of lying after he claimed millions of people had voted illegally in the US presidential election.

The President-elect had responded to the fact he trails Hillary Clinton in the popular vote by tweeting: “In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.

"Serious voter fraud in Virginia, New Hampshire and California - so why isn't the media reporting on this? Serious bias - big problem!”

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He offered no explanation for his claim and there appears to be little evidence of illegal voting having taken place. However, the President-elect later resumed his Twitter tirade, this time attacking journalists who had questioned his assertions

The New York Times used an editorial on Monday to attack Mr Trump’s claims.

In the piece, published under the byline of the paper’s Editorial Board, it said: “This is a lie, part of Mr. Trump’s pattern, stretching back many years, of disregard for indisputable facts.

"There is no evidence of illegal voting on even a small scale anywhere in the country, let alone a systematic conspiracy involving 'millions'. 

“In addition to insulting law-abiding voters everywhere, these lies about fraud threaten the foundations of American democracy. They have provided the justification for state voter-suppression laws around the country, and they could give the Trump administration a pretext to roll back voting rights on a national scale.”

Mr Trump clearly “feels threatened” by the fact that 54 per cent of voters did not support him, the paper suggested.

It said: “So maybe his touchiness is understandable. Like most people, Mr. Trump senses the fundamental unfairness of awarding the presidency to the loser of the popular vote. 

“But if he’s truly worried about the legitimacy of the 2016 election, why doesn’t he call for a recount?”

Mr Trump currently trails Mrs Clinton by 2.3 million votes in the popular vote, with the final total likely to exceed 2.5 million once the last remaining postal votes have been counted.

He won the presidency, however, after victory in the Electoral College, which sees each state assigned a number of votes that go to the candidate who wins the public vote in that state. 

In 2012 Mr Trump called the Electoral College “a disaster for democracy” after mistakenly thinking it would lead to President Obama losing the popular vote but retainaing the White House.

Following his election victory, however, the billionaire businessman praised the “genius” of the system.

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Mr Trump has repeatedly attacked the New York Times, which endorsed Mrs Clinton for President. A week after his election he claimed the newspaper was “failing” and said its writers “looked like fools”.

He had earlier said it was “losing thousands of subscribers because of [its] very poor and highly inaccurate coverage of the ‘Trump phenomena’”. The paper responded saying it had actually seen a rise in subscriptions. 

The row is the latest of Mr Trump’s attacks on US media outlets. On Tuesday he criticised news station CNN, tweeting: “I thought that CNN would get better after they failed so badly in their support of Hillary Clinton however, since election, they are worse!"

"CNN is so embarrassed by their total (100%) support of Hillary Clinton, and yet her loss in a landslide, that they don't know what to do."