A White House official told a federal judge Tuesday that
President Donald Trump’s
now-defunct voter fraud commission plans to delete the voter
data it collected from about 20 states and contradicted the
administration’s public statements saying the Department of
Homeland Security would take up the panel’s work.
Trump suddenly dissolved
the commission Wednesday but said its work would be moved to
DHS. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said
the agency would take up the panel’s “preliminary findings,”
and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R), the panel’s vice
chair, said DHS would run
voter information against databases of immigrants to try to
find voters illegally on the rolls.
But Charles Herndon, the director of White House Information
Technology, said in a sworn court
declaration filed Tuesday that that wasn’t the case.
Herndon said the panel “did not create any preliminary
findings.” He added that “no Commission records or data will be
transferred to the DHS or another agency,” except for the
National Archives and Records Administration.
Herndon also said no commission member ever had access to
state voter data.
The declaration came in a lawsuit by Maine Secretary of State
Matthew Dunlap (D), a commissioner, who sued the panel alleging
he was being excluded from crucial communications and planning.
Dunlap filed a motion in
court earlier Tuesday to block the panel from transferring any
information from its activities until he had a chance to review
Austin Evers, the executive director of the watchdog group
American Oversight, which is representing Dunlap, said
Herndon’s statements raised questions about what the Trump
administration was planning to do to investigate voter
“Either the White House just admitted it lied to the public in
an official statement or it just misled the court. Given their
record to date, it’s hard to guess which is more likely,” he
A federal judge ordered the commission to turn over
communications to Dunlap on Dec. 22. Lawyers for the Department
of Justice on Tuesday asked the judge to reconsider her order
because the panel no longer exists.
It’s not the only contradiction on how the voter fraud probe
will move forward. Kobach has publicly insisted he will be
advising DHS on investigating voter fraud moving forward, but
DHS has publicly said he is not advising the
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach had indicated the
Department of Homeland Security would take over the work of
the voter fraud commission. (Mark Reinstein via Getty Images)
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