White House intends to destroy data from defunct commission
The White House “intends to destroy all state voter data” collected for President Donald Trump’s dissolved voter fraud commission, a deputy assistant to the president said in a court filing Tuesday.
The data has not and will not be transferred to other agencies, such as the Department of Homeland Security, according to a court declaration by Charles C. Herndon, director of White House Information Technology.
Herndon’s sworn declaration was a departure from what the White House said last week when it announced the end of the commission and stated that Trump “has asked the Department of Homeland Security to review its initial findings and determine next courses of action.”
“The Commission did not create any preliminary findings,” Herndon said in Tuesday’s filing.
He added that the voter data wouldn’t go to any agency “except to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), pursuant to federal law, if the records are not otherwise destroyed.”
Last Wednesday, Trump dissolved his Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, attributing it to various states’ refusal to participate in the board.
Trump established the commission in May after claiming without evidence that massive voter fraud had cost him the popular vote, and he appointed Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to lead the panel.
The commission had been criticized as a misguided step to solve a practically non-existent problem.
The panel requested wide-reaching information about voters in every state, including dates of birth and partial Social Security numbers. The request was met with swift and strong opposition by many state election officials, setting off a series of lawsuits over privacy, and requests were eventually scaled back. The commission faced pushback from officials across the country, civil rights advocates and even a lawsuit from a member of the commission.
One Democratic member, Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap went public with his complaints that the commission was not including its Democratic members.
He sued the commission, telling the court he didn’t have equal access to documents and sought a court order granting him access. In late December, the US District Court in Washington sided with Dunlap and ordered the commission to provide him with the information on commission activities he requested.
On Tuesday, the court granted a Department of Justice request to lift that injunction. The DOJ had argued that “because the Commission has been terminated, there is no longer a prospect of injury caused by plaintiff’s inability to participate in any deliberations of a now-dissolved Commission.”