President Trump on Wednesday dissolved a controversial commission that was set up to investigate his unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud during the 2016 election.
The White House said Trump decided to disband the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity because several states failed to hand over voter information.
Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement that “rather than engage in endless legal battles at taxpayer expense,” Trump signed an executive order abolishing the panel and turning the matter over to the Department of Homeland Security.
The order brought an abrupt end to a highly touted commission that Trump created last May.
It was established months after Trump claimed without citing evidence that millions of people voted illegally in 2016, depriving him of a popular-vote victory against Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a vocal supporter of voter ID laws, led the commission. It was made up of Republicans and Democrats.
The panel met twice, but was quickly bogged down amid states’ unwillingness to comply with its requests and lawsuits alleging it did not follow federal record-keeping laws.
The Government Accountability Office announced last October it was opening an investigation into the commission at the request of three Democratic senators who said the panel did not properly disclose its work.
Democrats and civil-rights groups described the commission as part of a broader conservative effort to deprive minorities of voting rights and a cover to back up the president’s claims.
“The claim of widespread voter fraud in the United States is in fact, fraud. The demise of this commission should put this issue to rest,” Michael Waldman, president of the liberal Brennan Center for Justice, said in a statement.
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) celebrated the panel’s end, calling it a “front to suppress the vote, perpetrate dangerous and baseless claims” that “was ridiculed from one end of the country to the other.”
Some leading Republicans, including Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), also urged Trump last year to drop his claims of widespread fraud.
The announcement of the panel’s demise capped off a chaotic news day at the White House, which scrambled to push back against former Trump strategist Steve Bannon’s explosive criticism of the president and his family in a new book.
It also came roughly 24 hours after Trump challenged North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Twitter over the size of his “nuclear button,” a comment that sparked new fears of a deadly conflict with Pyongyang.