U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday said a voter fraud commission launched under his administration will be “very transparent” and the results will be made available publicly, once a report is written.
The panel's work will be "very open for everyone to see" Trump said during the commission's first meeting. "You will approach this important task with a very open mind and with no conclusions already drawn. You will fairly and objectively follow the facts wherever they may lead,” he told the group.
The commission met to swear in members, formulate objectives and discuss next steps after requesting voter information from the 50 states last month.
Trump announced the creation of the commission early in his presidency after alleging, without proof, that millions of illegal votes caused him to lose the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election.
Trump: Voter Fraud Commission Will be 'Very Transparent'
Vice President Mike Pence promised the commission would serve as “non-partisan service to the American people,” though several Democrats have voiced doubt over the effectiveness of the commission and called for the removal of Kris Kobach as vice chairman.
Critics of the commission say it is part of a voter suppression effort aimed at removing minorities and other typically Democrat voters from the voter rolls, and to justify Trump’s claims of massive illegal voting.
In a letter sent Tuesday to Pence, four high-ranking Democrats – Reps. Elijah Cummings, John Conyers, Bennie Thompson and Robert Brady - said they were concerned the commission’s request for voter data would “openly flout federal privacy and transparency laws.”
“Mr. Kobach has repeatedly claimed, falsely, that widespread voter fraud exists and advertises his work on the Commission to promote his own campaign for governor of Kansas,” the letter read. “These actions undermine the integrity of the Commission and raise significant concerns that the Commission will be used as a tool for voter suppression.”
Trump, though, said the commission will “protect” the sanctity of American elections and “follow the facts” wherever they may lead.
“This commission is tasked with the sacred duty of upholding the integrity of the ballot box and the principle of one citizen, one vote,” Trump said. “Every time voter fraud occurs it cancels out the vote of a lawful citizen and undermines democracy -- can’t let that happen.”
Trump said more than 30 states had already agreed to share the data with the commission. Several states, though, refused Trump’s request for voter information – which included voter names, voting histories and party registrations.
Trump chided those states during his remarks Wednesday, saying “one has to wonder what they're worried about.