On Wednesday, the White House kicked off the inaugural meeting of its Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity—the spurious group created seemingly for the express purpose of validating Donald Trump’s debunked claim that voter fraud is a widespread problem, and for giving his administration a reason to enact new voter suppression measures down the line.
Predictably, the meeting was terrible and full of lies.
In his opening remarks to the assembled members, Vice President Mike Pence— who serves as the commission’s chair—insisted that the group “has no pre-conceived notions or pre-ordained results,” without acknowledging its origins in Trump’s demonstratively false lies about voter fraud.
“We’re fact finders,” Pence stated, before introducing the president himself, who defaulted to his habit of citing anonymous sources who’ve told him of “voter irregularities...in some cases having to do with very large numbers of people in certain states”—a claim for which there is zero evidence.
Trump also commended the “more than 30 states” that have already agreed to share the voter information requested by the committee, adding “if any state does not want to share this information, one has to wonder what they’re worried about?”
“There’s something,” Trump mused. “There always is.” Except in this case, where there really, really isn’t.
In fact, nearly every state in the country has in some way rejected part or all of the commission’s request for voter data, Pence’s home state of Indiana, and commission co-chair Kris Kobach’s native Kansas.
In addition to the fact that the commission’s stated mission is based on a myth, critics of the group contend that its goal is instead to increase voter suppression. As evidence, they point to the commission’s co-chair, Kobach, dubbed the “king of voter suppression” by the ACLU. Hardly someone with “no pre-conceived notions.”
Before Pence had even gaveled the meeting into session on Wednesday morning, the commission was already facing at least seven federal lawsuits brought against it by groups such as the ACLU, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, the Lawyers Committee for Civil Right Under the Law, and the NAACP.
In their suit, the NAACP were blunt in their assessment of the commission and its aim, saying it “was formed with the intent to discriminate against voters of color in violation of the Constitution.”
Update, 2:50 PM—On Wednesday afternoon, committee vice-chair Kris Kobach spoke with NBC’s Katy Tur, where he was asked whether Hillary Clinton actually won the popular vote in the 2016 election (Spoiler: She did. Massively).
Nevertheless, Kobach—demonstrating his steadfast commitment to having “no pre-conceived notions,” answered simply: “We may never know.”
Wow, truly a mystery for the ages!