Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) continued to fight releasing documents from a meeting with President Donald Trump in November, saying that the public did not need to see them and that disclosing them would impede his ability to serve on Trump’s commission to investigate voter fraud. Kobach, who has lent support to Trump’s claims of widespread voter fraud and exaggerated instances of it in the past, made the argument with his lawyer in a Friday court filing as part of an ongoing lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union over a Kansas law requiring people to prove their citizenship to vote. As part of the lawsuit, the ACLU is requesting a Kansas federal judge unseal documents that Kobach was photographed holding when he met with Trump in November 2016, as well as a draft amendment to federal voting law, which circulated in his office. The documents contain potential amendments to the National Voter Registration Act, a 1993 law requiring motor vehicle and some other state agencies to provide opportunities to register to vote.
The public release of the documents would be significant because Kobach is the de facto leader of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, a probe Trump convened in May to investigate election confidence. Trump and Kobach have promised a neutral investigation, but critics say the panel is an effort to substantiate Trump’s claims of widespread voter fraud and lay the groundwork for restrictive voting laws. Documents that show Kobach attempting to change federal law to impose more restrictive voting policies could substantially undermine the perception of impartiality.
A separate email made public as part of the lawsuit revealed Kobach was already working on an attempt to amend NVRA the day after Trump was elected.