One of the president’s traits that probably makes his staff and other Republicans crazy is that he just can’t let go of ludicrous statements he’s made. White House sources are indicating that one reason he fired James Comey is that the FBI director would not confirm his unsubstantiated complaint that Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower during the 2016 campaign.
Now we are seeing another Trump action based on an even more bizarre assertion: his claim that he was robbed of a big popular-vote victory in 2016 by “millions of people who voted illegally.” According to multiple reports, the president is today setting up an “election integrity” commission that is apparently the fulfillment of a Trump pledge to prove the illegal vote fantasy via an investigation. It will be headed up by his vice-president, Mike Pence, who is what passes for a bipartisan figure in the administration. But the clear indicator of the commission’s intent is its vice-chairman, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a Trump adviser who is to bogus “voter fraud” allegations what Chick-fil-A is to chicken sandwiches.
Here’s Talking Points Memo’s brisk profile of Kobach:
Kobach is the engineer of a number of laws and proposals that were struck down by the courts, including a proof-of-citizenship requirement for voter registration in Kansas that has been tied up in a multi-year legal battle. Multiple courts have ruled against his efforts to implement the requirement, and at one point, he was threatened to be held in contempt-of-court for allegedly refusing to comply with a court order against it.
He also talked Kansas legislators into giving him prosecutorial powers in “voter fraud” cases, citing the threat of “aliens” flooding the polls. As a Kansas City Star editorial last year noted:
Kobach hasn’t exposed a single example of that happening in Kansas among the cases he has filed.
The Legislature in 2017 should wrest away from Kobach the powers it wrongly gave this oh-so-dangerous public official.
He is reportedly the Romney adviser in 2012 who talked the GOP nominee into the idea of “self-deportation” as his central immigration strategy. And he was also a key architect of Arizona’s notorious “show your papers” law aimed at authorizing random interrogations of people who look like they might be undocumented — i.e., Latino.
Suffice it to say, placing Kobach in the leadership of this commission poisons it fatally (it could get even worse if former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, another avid promoter of voter-fraud nonsense, is appointed as well, as most reports indicate).
Indeed, Kobach’s presence could completely undermine White House efforts to get Democrats to support the commission by expanding its mandate beyond voter fraud to voter suppression.
Election-law expert Rick Hasen provided perhaps the best brief analysis of the commission and its trajectory:
The Administration’s credibility is so low that few except the true believers are likely to believe anything produced by the likely worthless report.
Count Donald Trump among the true believers of his own “illegal voters” hype.