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Trump’s short-lived voting fraud commission had no impact on election laws

President Trump this week dissolved the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, a body that was supposed to root out and prevent suspected voter fraud after Trump’s unverified claim that “millions of people who voted illegally” cost him the popular vote in 2016. Jessica Huseman, a ProPublica reporter who has been following the story, joins Hari Sreenivasan to discuss.

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  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    This week President Trump dissolved the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, a body that was supposed to root out and prevent suspected voter fraud. The commission's creation stemmed from President Trump's unverified claim that millions of people who voted illegally cost him the popular vote in 2016. In its short tenure the commission had no effect on campaign laws and was dogged by controversy – that it no longer exists may not be the end of the voter fraud issue. However ProPublica reporter Jessica Huseman has been following the story joins me now. So is this all settled down. Is the commission dissolved because there wasn't any voter fraud?

  • JESSICA HUSEMAN:

    The commission at the time that it was dissolved was facing eight federal lawsuits and those were going pretty well for the people who were suing the commission and Commissioner Matt Dunlap who is the Democratic secretary of state for Maine sued the Commission accusing it of unlawfully excluding it from the deliberations of the commission. And a judge ruled in his favor saying that the commission had to include him and had to give him several documents that he had asked for and then only days later the commission was dissolved.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    So he was a commissioner and he didn't have access to the information that the Commission was working on. And that was the lawsuit?

  • JESSICA HUSEMAN:

    It also came out later that a letter that Mr. Kobach sent before the commission ever met, which became very controversial asking all states for a lot of voter information was done with collaboration by two members who were not even on the commission at the time that the letter was drafted and sent. The rest of the commission wasn't given access to that letter. So the commission was very unhappy that they weren't able to see the letter before it went out even though to people who weren't even on the commission were able to.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    Not necessarily just a fact check – Kris Kobach in a recent NPR interview, a couple of things that he said was one that the information that the voter commission requested from states was all public information, and two that this information is now going to be used by the Department of Homeland Security to try to cross-check it with Social Security numbers or the legal status of everyone.

  • JESSICA HUSEMAN:

    So those are both incorrect. So the for the first point the letter requested – from the beginning it said we want publicly available voter roll information but then in the same letter it went on to request things that are never public in any state including the Social Security number of voters and their military status. So the letter was confusing. And then on the second point the point that DHS was going to take control of these roles has since been debunked and a letter to Matt Dunlap's attorneys last night and the DOJ admitted that these voter rolls were not going to be used or distributed. So he's been claiming for the last two days including most notably on NPR on Thursday morning that they were going to use these voter rolls that the commission was going to give them to them. That appears to not be the case.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    So what happens are the work of the commission if it is turned over to DHS?

  • JESSICA HUSEMAN:

    It's unclear to me what would be turned over to DHS so since DOJ has said that their voter rolls won't be turned over at all. There's really not much left to turn over. There were no reports made by the commission, the commission didn't agree on any on any points of view. Mr. Kobach even in a Breitbart article a couple of days ago said "Oh well look at all this voter fraud that the commission has found" – that's not true at all. There were instances of voter fraud submitted into the record but they were never considered by the commission, they were never fact checked. So at this point the commission hasn't made any findings and it's not clear to me what would be turned over to DHS if something should be.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    Jessica Huseman of ProPublica. Thanks so much.

  • JESSICA HUSEMAN:

    Thank you.

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