President Trump opened the first in-person meeting of his sketchy voter fraud commission by claiming he’s heard concerns about “very large numbers of people in certain states” involved in “voter inconsistencies,” while also suggesting that states that so far haven’t turned over all the voter information the commission has requested had something to hide.
“If any state does not want to share this information, one has to wonder what they’re worried about,” Trump said at his brief appearance at the meeting, which took place at a government building near the White House. “And I ask the Vice President, I ask the commission, what are they worried about? There is something, there always is.”
Trump created the commission after claiming falsely that millions of people voted illegally in the 2016 election. Trump reiterated on Wednesday his unsubstantiated concerns of massive voter fraud, though he didn’t put a number on it this time.
“This issue is very important to me because throughout the campaign, and even after, people would come up to me and express their concerns about voter inconsistencies and irregularities which they saw, in some cases having to do with very large numbers of people in certain states,” he said.
The commission has come under fire for a variety of reasons, from the appointment of officials who’ve pushed for restrictive laws to lead it, to its request that states turn over its voter roll information. A number of states have refused to turn over some or all of the data being requested, due to state laws and broader privacy concerns.
Trump, on Wednesday, suggested their resistance would be overcome: “That information will be forthcoming,” he said.
But a larger concern among election policy experts is that the data will be manipulated to back up Trump’s claims of mass voter fraud and to be used to justify more restrictive laws or voter roll purges.
The commission’s vice chair, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R), proposed to Trump and his transition team legislation to amend the National Voter Registration Act, and the Justice Department has signaled it will be pressuring states to undertake aggressive purges of their rolls.
Even after raising the specter of mass fraud, Trump claimed that the commission will have no preconceived conclusions or goals.
“You will approach this important task with a very open mind and with no conclusions already drawn. You will fairly and objectively follow the facts wherever they may lead,” Trump said.