The Department of Justice is refusing to release documents compiled during President Donald Trump’s now-dissolved voter fraud commission to Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap.
A federal judge recently ordered that the commission provide Dunlap, a member of the commission, the panel’s working papers. But Dunlap says the DOJ has now told him that he’s no longer entitled to them because the commission is dissolved and Dunlap is no longer a part of it.
Dunlap issued a blistering response on Saturday and he vowed to sue the DOJ.
“Perhaps the only surprising aspect of the Department of Justice response is their rich blend of arrogance and contempt for the rule of law,” he wrote, adding that its decision “is unthinkable, unconscionable and un-American”.
Dunlap also noted that the documents could be used by the Department of Homeland Security, which he has previously warned could attempt to nationalize voter suppression policy.
“The actions taken by the administration going forward will have an immense impact on every American voter — and they plan on doing that under cover of darkness, without interference from a free people who deserve the fruits of liberty that the checks and balances of government promise them; a promise the Department of Justice is now denying,” Dunlap said.
Trump disbanded the commission earlier this week. He cited the numerous lawsuits that have dogged the panel since its inception. Dunlap, with the assistance of American Oversight, a D.C. watchdog group, successfully sued the panel in November after arguing that its conservative members had shut him out of their work.
Dunlap’s legal victory came shortly before Trump’s decision to disband the commission.
It’s unclear what type of documents that the panel compiled, but Dunlap said the content is of critical public interest if the Trump administration attempts to draft a national policy affecting voting rights.
Shortly after disbanding the commission, Trump tweeted that the country should have voter ID — a controversial policy that voting rights advocates say disenfranchises minorities, college students and the elderly.
Gov. Paul LePage, who often touts policy initiatives of the Trump administration, announced Friday that he will be submitting a voter ID bill this session. Such bills have been considered numerous times over the past seven years. All have encountered stiff resistance, including among some Republicans.