Vice President-elect Mike Pence asserted on Sunday that Donald Trump was "entitled" to say that millions of Americans voted illegally -- even if the claim was false.
During an interview on ABC's This Week, host George Stephanopoulos reminded the future vice president of a recent tweet in which Trump declared that he lost the popular vote because of the "millions of people who voted illegally."
"That claim is groundless," Stephanopoulos pointed out. "There's no evidence to back it up. Is it responsible for a president-elect to make false statements like that?"
Pence defended himself by pointing to an unrelated 2012 Pew Center study on outdated voter registrations. However, the study's author has said that he found no evidence of voter fraud. Politifact recently gave Trump's team a "Pants of Fire" rating for linking the Pew Study to voter fraud.
"That statement is false," the ABC host pressed.
"I think the president-elect just wants to call to attention the fact that there has been evidence over many years," Pence stuttered. "It's certainly his right."
"It's his right to make false statements?" Stephanopoulos asked.
"I think one of the things that's refreshing about our president-elect," Pence replied, "I think he made such an incredible connection with people all across this country because he tells you what's on his mind."
"But why is it refreshing to make false statements?" Stephanopoulos wondered.
"I don't know that is a false statement and neither do you," Pence snapped. "There is historic evidence from the Pew Research Center that voter fraud has taken place."
"Can you provide any evidence to back up that statement?" the ABC host asked again.
"He's entitled to express his opinion on that," Pence remarked. "I think the American people find it very refreshing that they have a president who will tell them what's on his mind."
"Whether it's true or not," Stephanopoulos concluded.