On Thursday in West Virginia, at an event to tout his tax cut law, President Donald Trump got to talking about the 2016 election. And he said this:
"In many places the same person in California votes many times. They always like to say, 'Oh that's a conspiracy theory.' It's not a conspiracy theory. Millions and millions of people and it's very hard because the state guards their records."
Which is, strictly speaking, false. (It is also, loosely speaking, false.)
As The Washington Post's Fact Checker put it way back in late 2016: "Simply put, there is no evidence that 'millions of people' voted illegally in the election."
That, of course, hasn't stopped Trump from saying it. He has tweeted it. He has asserted that he would have won the popular vote -- easily -- if not for the illegal votes. He. Just. Keeps. Repeating. It.
Why does he do it? Because it suits the story of the election he tells himself.
It's not enough for Trump to have won in the only way it matters -- the electoral college. (He lost the popular vote by almost 3 million votes to Hillary Clinton.)
He has to have a total victory. And that means coming up with a way that he actually won the popular vote, even though he didn't. It also means conflating the idea of Russian meddling in the election -- which the US intelligence community unanimously agrees happened -- with somehow taking away the credit he deserves for winning.
Trump won't give up talking about illegal votes because he needs to believe that millions of them were cast, and everyone would know that if not for a conspiracy to keep the voter rolls secret.
The Point: There is no conspiracy. There is no evidence that millions or even thousands of votes were cast illegally in 2016. And none of that means the President of the United States will stop saying there were.