WASHINGTON (AFP) - President Donald Trump on Wednesday (Jan 3) disbanded an investigation into alleged voter fraud in the 2016 election, but refused to back down on unsubstantiated allegations of massive wrongdoing at the ballot box.
Facing opposition from US states and an uphill battle to prove something that almost all experts agree did not happen, Trump ditched his controversial panel of inquiry.
But the president did not seem to completely abandon his unproven claim that between three million and five million people voted illegally in the 2016 presidential election.
"Despite substantial evidence of voter fraud, many states have refused to provide the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity with basic information relevant to its inquiry," Trump said in a statement.
"Rather than engage in endless legal battles at taxpayer expense, today I signed an executive order to dissolve the Commission, and have asked the Department of Homeland Security to review these issues and determine next courses of action."
Trump won the election because he garnered more state electoral college votes, but lost the popular vote by around three million votes.
The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity raised alarm bells when its vice chair Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state, sent a letter to all 50 states asking for sensitive information on all registered voters.
Kobach sought names, addresses, date of birth, party affiliation, the last four digits of social security numbers, military status, data on felony convictions and "voter history." Some states rejected the White House request, warning the information could be misused in voter disenfranchisement efforts.
Trump - who had also raised the specter of voter fraud prior to the election that brought him to office - sought to cast the refusals as evidence of a potential cover-up.
"Numerous states are refusing to give information to the very distinguished VOTER FRAUD PANEL. What are they trying to hide?" he wrote on Twitter last year.