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Politics & Government

Despite Shaky Evidence, Trump Team Alleges Voter Fraud


President-elect Trump has a choice to lead the Department of Health and Human Services. He's a doctor. He's also a Georgia congressman who led Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Let's talk through the presidential transition with NPR's Ron Elving, who's on the line. Hi, Ron.

RON ELVING, BYLINE: Good morning, Steve.

INSKEEP: What's Tom Price, the choice for Health and Human Services, like?

ELVING: Tom Price is a physician from the Atlanta area, represents the northern suburbs of that metropolitan area. He has practiced orthopedic surgery for 20 years, came to Congress in 2005. He's been prominent on health care issues ever since, and especially a big critic of the ACA, or Obamacare, as you say. He's voted scores of times to repeal it and he's kind of a root-and-branch guy who wants to get rid of it. But he also knows there has to be something in its place. So he has a legislative plan of action to use pretty much the same budget procedures to get rid of Obamacare that the Democrats used to pass it back in 2010.

INSKEEP: Is it clear to Price and most Republicans what we've heard on this program from some Republicans, including the president-elect has made statements to this effect, that they'll need to replace Obamacare with something that does a lot of the same things as Obamacare because it benefits a lot of people?

ELVING: At least a few of the things. And that's what we've heard from the president-elect. He's said gee, I like that idea of keeping your kid on your insurance until they're an adult at 26. I sort of think that some people approve of the way that Obamacare requires that insurance companies carry people who have pre-existing conditions. And so they're going to want to keep things like that, but things like that are going to cost a lot of money for the insurance companies. And if they want to keep a private insurance company system, they're going to have to deal with that.

INSKEEP: That's the complexity - the popular parts are connected to the unpopular parts. Now, let me ask you, Ron Elving, what about the choice for secretary of state?

ELVING: The secretary of state position is perhaps the most high profile one of the entire cabinet. It's the person who goes around the world representing the United States. And for Donald Trump, that means going around the world representing Donald Trump. So he wants somebody who looks the part, somebody who is prepared to play the part. And he has been highly enamored of Mitt Romney, the former Republican presidential nominee from 2012, despite the fact that Romney has been such a harsh critic of Donald Trump, calling him a phony, a fraud, a con-artist. So that has really riven the Trump camp. And it has also divided Republicans in general. Some Republicans would like to see one of the more military figures in this job. That could be David Petraeus, the former army general and former CIA director, who visited with Trump yesterday - got a really positive tweet after he saw the president-elect. Or it could be somebody like former Marine General John Kelly, who's known as a very hard-liner on border security, and that could appeal to Donald Trump. So there are a lot of other people in the mix for secretary of state. We're also waiting on defense. We're waiting on treasury and several others as well.

INSKEEP: So let me ask about Trump's tweets over the weekend claiming there were millions of illegal votes cast in the election that he won. He offered no evidence. I understand his staff tried to come up with some evidence yesterday.

ELVING: They put out a document, which, if you hit printer, ran out 45 pages. But it's scarcely 45 pages of evidence of voter fraud. What it is is mostly boilerplate stuff that's been around for years about a problem with voter rolls, problems with voter registration, people who are registered in more than one state, and we've known about this for a long time. None of it actually means that these people are actually voting fraudulently. You know, one of the people who's looked at this professionally over the years says your chances of finding actual voter fraud in person are about like being bitten by a shark while the shark is being hit by lightning.

INSKEEP: Ron, just a couple of seconds here - are the media approaching Trump's tweets the wrong way? I mean, he's obviously trolling. He obviously doesn't check his facts. He obviously tweets false things. There's a reporter, Salena Zito, who's covered him, who says his supporters don't take him literally, suggesting they don't really believe him either. Should we just note that he says false things and move on?

ELVING: We all take him seriously now that he is the president-elect, and perhaps some of his supporters are going to begin to take some of his pronouncements a bit more literally. But we know this - it's been an unconventional campaign. It's an unconventional transition. And it's going to be an unconventional presidency.

INSKEEP: That's NPR's Ron Elving. Thanks very much.

ELVING: Thank you, Steve. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.