‘What are they trying to hide?’
Trump lashes out as states resist call for voter data
bridgewater, n.j. — President Trump on Saturday lashed out at the more than two dozen states that have objected to a presidential commission’s sweeping request for voter data, accusing them of circumventing public scrutiny over potential voter fraud.
Trump’s tweet, issued a day after he arrived at his Bedminster estate in New Jersey for a threenight stay, highlighted the political stakes over his effort to validate his widespread claims of rampant illegal voting through the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, which is being led by Vice President Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R). Trump, who lost the popular vote to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, has claimed that millions of immigrants living in the country illegally cast votes for her.
The White House has said the commission will embark upon a “thorough review of registration and voting issues in federal elections,” but experts and voting rights advocates have pilloried Trump for his claims of widespread fraud, which studies and state officials alike have not found. They say that they fear the commission will be used to restrict voting.
Those worries intensified last week after the commission sent letters to 50 states and the District on Wednesday asking for a trove of information, including names, dates of birth, voting histories and, if possible, party identifications. The letters also asked for evidence of voter fraud, convictions for election-related crimes and recommendations for preventing voter intimidation — all within 16 days.
While the Trump administration has said it is merely requesting public information, the letters were met with swift — and sometimes defiant — rejection. By Saturday, 25 states were partially or entirely refusing to provide the requested information; some said state laws prohibit releasing certain details about voters, while others refused to provide any information because of the commission’s makeup and backstory.
“This entire commission is based on the specious and false notion that there was widespread voter fraud last November,” Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) said in a statement. “At best this commission was set up as a pretext to validate Donald Trump’s alternative election facts, and at worst is a tool to commit largescale voter suppression.”
California, a state Trump singled out for “serious voter fraud,” also refused to participate. Alex Padilla, the California secretary of state, said providing data “would only serve to legitimize the false and already debunked claims of massive voter fraud.”
“This entire commission is based on the specious and false notion that there was widespread voter fraud last November.” Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D)
A spokesman for Vice President Pence defended the letters requesting voter data, noting they seek information that is available publicly under state laws.
“The commission very clearly is requesting publicly available data in accordance with each state’s laws in an effort to increase the integrity of our election system,” Jarrod Agen, the spokesman, said in a statement. “The commission’s goal is to protect and preserve the principle of one person, one vote because the integrity of the vote is the foundation of our democracy.”
Trump’s voter commission tweets Saturday were quickly followed by familiar attacks on CNN and MSNBC for their coverage of him. Trump said that “Morning Joe” hosts “Crazy Joe Scarborough” and “dumb as a rock” Mika Brzezinski are “not bad people” — even as he disparaged them again — but that their show is undermined by bosses at the network.
The president also suggested that host Greta Van Susteren was let go from MSNBC by her “out of control bosses.” Van Susteren announced she was leaving the network last week.
Trump did dole out some praise, however, wishing a Happy Canada Day to the “great people of Canada” and his “new found friend” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.