Donald Trump is assailing an effort to recount votes in up to three battleground states, calling it "sad." The US president-elect has also alleged that "millions of people who voted illegally" cost him the popular vote.
Taking to Twitter on Sunday, the US president-elect quoted his former rival Hillary Clinton, and called her decision to join a recount in Wisconsin "ridiculous" and "a waste of time."
Clinton won the national vote by over 2 million votes, but Trump will be inaugurated president in January on an 18th-century technicality that awards votes on a sort of state-by-state points system.
In early tallies, Trump won Wisconsin by about 22,000 votes. Other battleground states where recounts could go ahead are Pennsylvania, where Trump won by just over 70,000, and Michigan, where he led by around 11,000 votes.
The president-elect later alleged that "millions of people who voted illegally" skewed the popular vote tally.
Jill Stein, the candidate for the Green Party, raised $5.8 million (5.5 million euros) of the $7 million needed to cover combined fees for recounts in the three states, saying she hoped to ensure that US elections are not vulnerable to manipulation. Clinton could conceivably tip the electoral balance in the remote event that all the contested states flip to her in recounts.
"No one expects there to be profound change, but there's nothing wrong with going through the process," Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, Clinton's rival during the primaries, said Sunday on CNN.
Trump's former campaign manager Kellyanne Conway told ABC on Sunday that the tycoon might rethink his vow not to seek Clinton's prosecution for using a private email server as secretary of state. Conway called Trump's handling of his former opponent "magnanimous," but added that "I guess her attitude towards that is to have her counsel go and join this ridiculous recount."
Reince Priebus, Trump's incoming chief of staff, said the magnate hadn't sought "methods and ways to persecute and prosecute Hillary Clinton," but he remained "open to listening."
'A bit betrayed' over Romney consideration
Trump, who has been accused of running a racist and xenophobic presidential campaign that divided the nation, has meetings scheduled for Monday as he continues to select his incoming administration - including the future secretary of state.
Candidates include former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and Tennessee Senator Bob Corker.
Division over the position again spilled out into the open on Sunday as Conway, Trump's most loyal surrogate, voiced her concerns over the possibility of Romney landing such a significant position.
Followers of Trump "feel a bit betrayed that you can get a Romney back in there after everything he did," Conway said of the 2012 Republican presidential candidate, who questioned Trump's intellect and integrity during the campaign, calling him a "fraud" and a "phony."
"We don't even know if he voted for Donald Trump," she said.
Priebus, the head of the national Republican Party, has acknowledged that Romney would represent "a team of rivals concept."
However, Conway was skeptical about that assertion: "I'm all for party unity," she said, "but I'm not sure we have to pay for that with the secretary of state position." She added that her comments reflect "what the grassroots are saying."
mkg/cmk (Reuters, APF, AP)