President Donald Trump has based claims that voter fraud cost him the popular vote in November’s election on “studies and evidence”, the White House said Tuesday.

Spokesman Sean Spicer did not elaborate on the evidence to support the claims, despite repeated questioning by reporters, but said Trump “continues to maintain that belief based on studies and evidence presented to him”.

He added: “It’s a belief he maintains.”

Trump surpassed the Electoral College threshold to secure the presidency in the Nov. 8 vote but overwhelmingly lost the popular vote with the official tally putting him nearly 3 million votes behind Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton.

The president said Monday during a meeting with congressional leaders that he believed some 3 to 5 million illegal ballots had cost him the popular vote, alleging that those votes came from those living in the country illegally.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan made clear that he had seen nothing to support the president’s claims. “I’ve seen no evidence to that effect,” he said. “I’ve made that very, very clear.”

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham was less diplomatic and told CNN that “if the president of the United States is claiming that 3 to 3.5 million people voted illegally, that shakes confidence in our democracy — he needs to disclose why he believes that.

“I don’t believe that. It is [a] most inappropriate thing for the president to say without proof. I would urge the president to knock this off.”

There has been no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the race for the White House. In an independent review, the Washington Post newspaper found just four cases of voter fraud.

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