Skip to content

Republican Leaders Lose Argument to Trump Over Voter Fraud

President pushes through commission to investigate his claims from 2016

President-elect Donald Trump and Kris Kobach, Kansas secretary of state, pose for a photo following their meeting in November at Trump’s golf resort in New Jersey. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images file photo)
President-elect Donald Trump and Kris Kobach, Kansas secretary of state, pose for a photo following their meeting in November at Trump’s golf resort in New Jersey. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images file photo)

President Donald Trump will establish a new federal commission Thursday to investigate his claims that up to 5 million illegal immigrants cast votes in November and cost him a popular vote victory over Hillary Clinton.

By doing so, the president will ignore pleas from his own party to drop the matter.

After first announcing his intention to launch the federal probe in late January, Trump waited three months to formally order the creation of the new panel to investigate. A White House official said the president is expected to sign the order Thursday.

Vice President Mike Pence will head the commission and “review policies and practices that enhance or undermine the American people’s confidence in the integrity of Federal elections — including improper registrations, improper voting, fraudulent registrations, fraudulent voting, and voting suppression,” according to the White House official.

[With Comey Ouster, Trump Joins Select Group of Presidents]

GOP Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is expected to be named vice chairman of the commission. That means it will be headed by two Republicans, rather than one member of each major political party.

While some establishment Republicans have opposed the investigation, Kobach’s selection will likely rouse Trump’s base — he has been a Trump adviser on these issues and has long been a proponent of strict voting laws. As Kansas’ secretary of state, he has vigorously supported a law that requires voters to prove they are U.S. citizens via a birth certificate or passport.

His appointment is expected just a day after a federal judge upheld another court’s order directing him to hand over documents as part of a lawsuit over that law. The ACLU wants an exemption made permanent that allowed individuals to skip the birth certificate and passport requirements when they registered while obtaining a license to drive.

The documents in question were part of a November meeting Kobach had with Trump. The ACLU successfully argued that if Kobach discussed voter laws with Trump, that conversations could impact the case.

The Kansan’s selection is another case of the president thumbing his nose at critics.

Trump first announced Jan. 25 on Twitter his intention to form the commission and launch the probe.

Two days later, he took Air Force One to Philadelphia, where he did not mention his controversial allegations during remarks before a gathering of House and Senate Republicans. Many members of his own party have publicly called for him to drop the matter.

“So I am begging the president: Share with us the information you have about this or please stop saying it,” Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina told reporters in January.

“As a matter of fact, I’d like you to come forward and say, ‘Having looked at it, I am confident the election was fair and accurate and people who voted, voted legally,’” Graham said. “Because if he doesn’t do that, this is going to undermine his ability to govern this country.”

Trump called the alleged voter fraud the most-pressing matter facing his presidency.

“There’s nothing bigger,” he told ABC News during in his first White House interview days after being sworn in. “There’s nothing bigger.”

“I will tell you, it’s a good thing that we’re doing because at the end we’re going to have an idea as to what’s going on,” the president said then. “You take a look at the [voter] registrations, how many dead people are there?”

[Trump Announces Federal Voter Fraud Probe Amid Questionable Claims]

As with other claims by the 45th president and his senior staff, all of the alleged voter fraud evidence Trump and his team have cited has been debunked by election experts and fact-checking organizations.

Trump’s Democratic rival Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by roughly 3 million. He won in the Electoral College with 306 votes to Clinton’s 232.

Graham is not the only Republican lawmaker unsuccessfully pushing Trump away from the voting investigation.

Asked about the president’s continued “belief” that massive voter fraud had occurred, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., told reporters in January that he had “seen no evidence to that effect. I’ve made that very, very clear.”

Recent Stories

Should doctors in Congress earn money for their side job?

Supreme Court dodges definitive answer on legality of a ‘wealth tax’

Senate Finance Democrats look to raise revenue for 2025 tax cliff

Capitol Lens | Juneteenth on the Maryland campaign trail

At the Races: Trumping incumbency

Trump, Biden propel migrants to forefront of ‘contentious’ race