President Donald Trump’s opaque voter fraud probe released the most comprehensive look at its inner workings to date in court documents Friday, providing a clearer sense of how it plans to use the voter data it has collected and raising new questions about its scope and goals. The commission’s work so far has been unclear; even some commissioners have said they’re not exactly sure what the panel is working on. Friday’s disclosure is significant because it shows officials on the probe have contacted officials with the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice and the Social Security Administration ― which suggests the commission may be proceeding with a plan to compare the voter data it’s collected against federal databases. The commission is declining to release the email exchanges themselves, saying they are either administrative in nature or constitute individual research. Spokespeople for the commission, as well as for DOJ and the SSA, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
“The information released by the so-called Commission on Election Integrity as a result of our lawsuit paints an incomplete but alarming record about the Commission’s work and intentions,” Kristen Clarke, executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said in a statement.
The commission had previously indicated it was considering running voter data from different states through a DHS database. The log released Friday contains multiple exchanges between commission officials and the agency.
On May 12, the day after Trump signed an executive order establishing the commission, a DHS official emailed the office of Vice President Mike Pence, who chairs the commission, asking about its scope. On June 28, Andrew Kossack, the panel’s designated federal officer, emailed Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the vice chair of the commission, and other officials in Pence’s office about “potential partnership opportunities with DHS.” About a week later, someone at DHS emailed Kossack about “potential coordination/overlap between entities.” The log also shows Kossack and Kobach emailing with DHS to set up a time to talk on the phone.