Trump shuts down voter fraud commission, citing ‘endless legal battles’

President Donald Trump abruptly shut down his signature voter fraud commission on Wednesday and instead kicked the issue to the Department of Homeland Security.

Trump formed the commission last May to examine the U.S. electoral system for evidence of large-scale voter fraud. He has claimed, without evidence, that millions of people voted illegally in the 2016 presidential election.

The commission, formally called the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, has been bedeviled by internal dissension, threats of litigation and the refusal of some states to provide information. Its last known meeting was Sept. 12.

"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," Trump said in a brief statement early Wednesday evening.

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Campaign promises that Trump kept in 2017
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Campaign promises that Trump kept in 2017

Nominate replacement for late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia

After congressional Republicans refused to hold a hearing for Obama nominee Merrick Garland to replace the late Antonin Scalia, who passed away in February 2016, Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch to the empty Supreme Court seat soon after taking office in January. At the time, he said, “I made a promise to the American people, if I were elected president I would find the very best judge in the country for the Supreme Court.”

Photo by REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Move U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem

Trump announced in December that he planned to recognize Israel’s claim to a city at the heart of the Israel-Palestine conflict by moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

That would fulfill a 2016 campaign pledge, although he has offered no timeline for the embassy relocation and recently signed a waiver officially delaying any move for six months.

Photo credit: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Suspend immigration from terror-prone regions

One of the first major uproars from the left during Trump’s presidency came after he signed an executive order suspending immigration from several Muslim-majority countries during his first week in office.

After a series of drawn-out court battles, the Supreme Court allowed the third version of the travel ban to go into full effect on December 4. The action meant people cannot enter the U.S. from Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia and Chad – fulfilling a promise from a campaign speech that singled out Libya and Syria as two places from which he would suspend immigration.

Photo credit: Genaro Molina / LA Times via Getty Images

Enact lifetime ban on White House officials from lobbying for foreign governments and five-year ban on lobbying their own agency after leaving the administration

The former businessman came into the Oval Office eager to craft an image of someone yearning to prevent politicians from being bound to business interests. So in his quest to “drain the swamp,” Trump enacted an executive order in January meant to limit the sort of lucrative, ethically questionable jobs that former presidential aides have occasionally attained soon after leaving the White House.

Photo credit: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

Withdraw from Trans-Pacific Partnership

Trump formally withdrew from the TPP directly after inauguration weekend on the first Monday of his term. It was no surprise he was in such a hurry to pull the United States out of the pact after railing on the Obama-negotiated agreement throughout his campaign, alleging the trade deal took jobs away from Americans.

Photo credit: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Make a rule that for every federal regulation enacted, two must be removed

President Trump issued an executive order on January 30 that sought to dramatically reduce federal regulations across the board. The order requires all agencies to cut two existing regulations for every new one introduced, a campaign promise that hailed to his capitalist businessman roots.

Photo credit: REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Clear the way for energy infrastructure deals, including Keystone Pipeline XL

Within a week of taking office, the president signed two executive orders to move forward with the construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, rolling back the Obama administration’s environmental policies in order to increase domestic energy production and bolster the industry’s infrastructure. Obama had famously rejected the $6.1 billion Keystone XL project in 2015.

(Photo by Aydin Palabiyikoglu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Keep Guantanamo Bay prison open

In a sort of parallel opposition to president Barack Obama, who repeatedly claimed that he’d close Guantanamo Bay but ultimately never followed though, President Trump promised to keep the maximum-security prison in Cuba open and “load it up with bad dudes.” As of January 2017, 41 detainees remained there, and Trump has made no indication he’ll shut down Gitmo.

Photo credit: REUTERS/Randall Mikkelsen

Implement hiring freeze on federal employees

Trump initiated a 90-day federal hiring freeze almost immediately after entering the Oval Office, putting a halt to the rush of hires by the Obama administration before Inauguration Day in an attempt to fill the ranks with Democrats. Trump framed it as a measure that would “clean up the corruption and special interest collusion in Washington, D.C.”

Photo credit: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Severely cut the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget

As a skeptic of human-induced climate change, Trump targeted the EPA as an agency that could drastically reduce costs. Trump appointed Scott Pruitt to lead the agency the former Oklahoma attorney general had criticized for years over its alleged strict regulations.

Though Congress seems unlikely to pass the 31 percent budget reduction proposed by Trump and Pruitt, the president certainly can’t be accused of not trying to significantly downsize it.

Photo credit: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Pull out of Paris climate accord

Trump declared in June that he would withdraw the U.S. from the historic Paris agreement that was supported by Barack Obama in an effort to halt climate change. He decried “draconian” financial and economic burdens it puts on American workers. However, he added that he was open to re-entering the accord “on terms that are fair to the United States.”

Photo credit: REUTERS/How Hwee Young/Pool

Lower the business tax rate from 35 percent

Though Trump couldn’t manage to convince Congress to lower the corporate tax rate to 15 percent as he’d proposed, the 21 percent rate presented in the tax bill passed by Congress right before the holidays still represents a significant decrease from the previous 35 percent rate.

Photo credit: NICHOLAS KAMM,SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Eliminate the individual health care mandate established by Obamacare

Less than an hour after the Senate passed the massive GOP tax reform bill in the wee hours of December 20, Trump celebrated the demise of the individual mandate, which was attached to the legislation, on Twitter. The president had been ripping Obamacare for years, in particular, the requirement that punished Americans if they decided to go without health insurance.

However, the mandate won’t be abolished until 2019 since the legislation was passed too late in time for 2018.

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"Rather than engage in endless legal battles at taxpayer expense, today I signed an executive order to dissolve the Commission, and have asked the Department of Homeland Security to review these issues and determine next courses of action."

Related: Trump's voter fraud panel has gone dark. Members don't know why.

The president didn't say why the Department of Homeland Security would continue the commission's work. But it has already been investigating allegations of Russian tampering with voter registration systems in at least 20 states.

From the beginning, the commission has been heavily criticized for seeking massive amounts of voter data from every state. Many states have refused to cooperate.

President Donald Trump abruptly shut down his signature voter fraud commission on Wednesday and instead kicked the issue to the Department of Homeland Security.

Trump formed the commission last May to examine the U.S. electoral system for evidence of large-scale voter fraud. He has claimed, without evidence, that millions of people voted illegally in the 2016 presidential election.

The commission, formally called the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, has been bedeviled by internal dissension, threats of litigation and the refusal of some states to provide information. Its last known meeting was Sept. 12.

"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," Trump said in a brief statement early Wednesday evening.

"Rather than engage in endless legal battles at taxpayer expense, today I signed an executive order to dissolve the Commission, and have asked the Department of Homeland Security to review these issues and determine next courses of action."

Related: Trump's voter fraud panel has gone dark. Members don't know why.

The president didn't say why the Department of Homeland Security would continue the commission's work. But it has already been investigating allegations of Russian tampering with voter registration systems in at least 20 states.

From the beginning, the commission has been heavily criticized for seeking massive amounts of voter data from every state. Many states have refused to cooperate.

The panel has been sued by civil liberties and privacy rights advocates, including one of its own members, and multiple ethics watchdogs have filed complaints. David Dunn, a Democratic member of the panel, died in October, leaving the group with seven Republicans and four Democrats.

Meanwhile, the Government Accountability Office, a federal watchdog agency, said last year that it would investigate the commission's funding, internal operations and handling of tens of millions of sensitive voter files.

Related: Meet the bitterly divided members of Trump's vote fraud panel

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York called the commission "a front to suppress the vote" and to "perpetrate dangerous and baseless claims" on Wednesday night.

"This 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," Schumer said on Twitter.

 

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