President Donald Trump dissolved the election integrity commission he had charged with delving into his claims of widespread voter fraud in the 2016 presidential election. The White House said states had refused to cooperate with the investigation.
“Despite substantial evidence of voter fraud," Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement on Wednesday, "many states have refused to provide the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity with basic information relevant to its inquiry."
During the 2016 campaign, Trump repeatedly warned that the election would be "rigged." "Of course there is large scale voter fraud happening on and before election day. Why do Republican leaders deny what is going on? So naive!" he tweeted in mid-October 2016.
Although Trump defeated his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, in the Electoral College, she received nearly 3 million more votes. After the election, Trump maintained that he would have won the popular vote "if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally."
Trump created the commission last year. The panel’s leader, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, touched off complaints from election officials and activists around the country when he wrote a letter to states and the District of Columbia asking for voters’ personal information, including the last four digits of their Social Security numbers. Critics said that voter fraud is relatively rare and that the commission’s real agenda was to help restrict voting rights.
In November, one of the commission’s Democratic members filed a lawsuit, claiming that he had been shut out of the panel’s proceedings.
Sanders on Wednesday said Trump decided to sign an executive order ending the commission, "rather than engage in endless legal battles at taxpayer expense."
Instead, the Department of Homeland Security will look into the issues and "determine next courses of action," Sanders said.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, said in a statement on Wednesday evening that "the commission never had anything to do with election integrity. It was instead a front to suppress the vote, perpetuate dangerous and baseless claims, and was ridiculed from one end of the country to the other."
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