Donald Trump holds the most powerful office in the world. But he's dogged by insecurity over his loss of the popular vote in the election and a persistent frustration that the legitimacy of his presidency is being challenged by Democrats and the media, aides and associates say.
Trump's fixation has been a drag on the momentum of his opening days in office, with his exaggerations about inauguration crowds and false assertions about illegal balloting intruding on advisers' plans to launch his presidency with a flurry of actions on the economy.
His spokesman Sean Spicer has twice stepped into the fray himself, including on Tuesday, when he doubled down on Trump's false claim that he lost the popular vote because 3 million to 5 million people living in the U.S. illegally cast ballots.
"He believes what he believes based on the information he was provided," said Spicer, who provided no evidence to back up the president's statements. All 50 states and the District of Columbia have finalized their election results with no reports of the kind of widespread fraud that Trump is alleging.
If the president's claim were true it would mark the most significant election fraud in U.S. history — and ironically, would raise the same questions about Trump's legitimacy that he's trying to avoid. Yet Spicer repeatedly sidestepped questions about whether the Trump administration would investigate the allegations pushed by the president.
"Anything is possible," he said.