President Donald Trump this week signed an executive order disbanding a commission he established early in his administration to investigate allegations of voter fraud.
As the New York Post reported, the White House issued a statement Wednesday explaining the decision.
“Despite substantial evidence of voter fraud, many states have refused to provide the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity with basic information relevant to its inquiry,” the statement read.
Trump advised that he dissolve the panel, which had been chaired by Vice President Mike Pence, in the interest of preventing “endless legal battles at taxpayer expense.”
Amid a bitter and public war of words between Trump and former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, Politico spoke to a number of officials close to the White House who pointed to the former top aide as the driving force behind the now-defunct commission.
One source called the panel a “blundered Bannon rollout” that “should’ve never been in place.”
Another source confirmed that it “was his idea, and it was not a good one.”
The decision to dissolve the commission came just hours after another White House statement alleged that Bannon had “lost his mind” in the wake of critical comments contained in an excerpt of a forthcoming book.
The commission had been panned by critics as insufficiently transparent and bipartisan. In a statement following Wednesday’s announcement, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer celebrated the decision to shut down the commission.
According to the New York Democrat, the investigation “never had anything to do with election integrity,” but “was instead a front to suppress the vote, perpetrate dangerous and baseless claims, and was ridiculed from one end of the country to the other.”
Its dissolution, he wrote, “shows that ill-founded proposals that just appeal to a narrow group of people won’t work, and we hope they’ll learn this lesson elsewhere.”
In an interview with Politico, however, Kansas Secretary of State and commission vice chair Kris Kobach warned Democrats that their opposition could cost them as the investigation into voter fraud continues in a different venue.
“Anyone on the left needs to realize that by throwing the food in the air, they just lost a seat at the table,” he said.
Kobach went on to indicate the commission’s mandate will now be carried out by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, which he said was the “right move” at this point in the investigation.
“It’s a shifting in tactics from having the investigation be done by a federal commission to having it be done by a federal agency,” he said. “The agency has a greater ability to move quickly to get the investigation done.”
Though ICE does not have direct experience responding to the types of alleged voter fraud being investigated, Kobach explained that the agency does have a broad mandate to protect the nation’s election system.
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