Update: This story has been updated to include a response from the Department of Homeland Security.
President Trump’s voter fraud commission disclosed Friday more information about instances of internal communications among commission members, but not the content of the communications themselves. The disclosures came as part of an ongoing lawsuit against the panel.
The Justice Department, which is defending the commission, filed court documents that included a chart that noted emails and other types of communications sent among members, staff and administration officials. The commission is being sued by the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law for allegedly failing to meet government transparency guidelines.
The commission’s filing noted which of the communications have already been made public, and if they had not been made public, what legal justification the commission is claiming in not publishing them.
Much of the communications appear to be logistical: travel information, planned agendas for meetings, as well as drafts of presentations commission members and witnesses went on to present at a meeting in New Hampshire last month.
However, the filing Friday revealed that commission member J. Christian Adams, before formally being named to the commission in July, sent about a half dozen emails about “potential participants” and “potential research opportunities” to counsel for Vice President Mike Pence, the chair of the commission.
It also appears that the commission has been in talks with the Department of Homeland Security. A number of emails noted in the filing appear to be about setting up phone calls with DHS officials and commission vice chair Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state. There is also an email chain among Kobach, Pence’s staff and commission executive director Andrew J. Kossack about “potential partnership opportunities with DHS.”
At the first meeting of the commission in July, some of the members expressed interest in obtaining DHS data on non-citizens. Kobach, Adams and other members have been known to make highly speculative and misleading claims about massive voter fraud being committed by non-citizens. A DHS spokesperson told TPM Monday that the agency had been in contact with some of the commission members but has not yet provided the commission any of its data.
Some of the communications with DHS noted in the filing appear to be related to the various lawsuits facing the commission.
See the full table below: