The vice chair of President Donald Trump's commission to examine election voter fraud and voter suppression said the group could potentially look into Russian hacking.
On Wednesday, Department of Homeland Security officials told Congress that Russian hackers targeted election-related systems in 21 states before the 2016 election but that there was no evidence that vote tallies were altered. And an NSA report leaked to The Intercept in June also detailed how a phishing scam by Russian hackers targeted a voting software supplier through more than 100 local election officials.
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the vice chair of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, told Independent Journal Review that the group may address the issue if members of the bipartisan group bring it up:
“Since the commissioners have not all met together yet, it would be premature ... for me to answer whether or not the issue of Russian hacking will be taken up by the commission. But that is potentially a topic that could be addressed, if it is the will of the commission.”
Earlier this month, Kobach launched his campaign to become the next Kansas governor, but that won't slow down his Trump administration duties. He said the commission has begun collecting data and preparing letters to send out on behalf of the group.
As Kansas secretary of state, Kobach pushed the state legislature to enact some of the country's strictest voter restrictions. A federal court that struck down some of the restrictions in 2016 said the rules denied more than 18,000 Kansans the right to vote.
The commission also includes Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson (R), New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner (D), Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap (D), former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell (R), and Commissioner of the Election Assistance Commission Christy McCormick. Vice President Mike Pence serves as the commission's chairman. Additional commission members likely will be announced in the coming two weeks.
Following his victory last November, Donald Trump tweeted that he believed “millions of people” voted illegally. Trump also tweeted in January that his “major investigation” would look into “those registered to vote in two states, those who are illegal and even those registered to vote who are dead (and many for a long time).”
Initial announcements by the White House did not indicate that Russian election meddling would be addressed.
Earlier this week, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said he does not know if Trump believes Russia meddled in the last presidential election. Last year, Trump told Time magazine that the hacking “could be Russia. And it could be China. And it could be some guy in his home in New Jersey.”
“I don't believe [Russia] interfered,” he said. “That became a laughing point — not a talking point, a laughing point. Anytime I do something, they say, 'Oh, Russia interfered.'”