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The failure of Trump's voting commission demands accountability

Donald Trump is bringing this fiasco to an embarrassing end, but there's no reason to let the White House wash its hands of such an ignominious failure.
Image: US President Donald J. Trump departs the White House
epa06342878 US President Donald J. Trump (L) walks down the Colonnade with US Vice President Mike Pence (R) before departing the South Lawn with First Lady...

As regular readers know, the existence of Donald Trump’s “Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity” has long been a running joke. By all appearances, the Republican president, annoyed about losing the popular vote and comforted by strange conspiracy theories, created a panel to root out the voter fraud scourge that exists only in conservatives’ imaginations.

But the panel didn’t reach farcical status until it actually got to work. In September, for example, the panel’s co-chair, voter-suppression pioneer Kris Kobach, claimed to have uncovered “proof” of systemic fraud in New Hampshire – claims that were quickly discredited as transparent nonsense.

All the while, the commission, led in part by some of the nation's more outlandish voter-suppression activists, faced multiple lawsuits -- some from state officials, balking at Trump World's demands for sensitive information, and some from the commission's own members, who'd been deliberately kept in the dark by the panel's GOP leaders.

Yesterday, the fiasco came to an end.

President Donald Trump abruptly shut down his signature voter fraud commission on Wednesday and instead kicked the issue to the Department of Homeland Security. [...]Trump formed the commission last May to examine the U.S. electoral system for evidence of large-scale voter fraud. He has claimed, without evidence, that millions of people voted illegally in the 2016 presidential election.

That last point is of particular interest. The commission was formed, not because of evidence of systemic fraud, but because of the lack of evidence of systemic fraud. Trump felt embarrassed about losing the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes, so to make himself feel better, the Republican insisted that he secretly won the popular vote if one excludes illegally cast ballots -- which, again, didn't exist.

To bolster his bizarre conspiracy theory, Trump created this panel to tell him what he wanted to hear, attempting to uncover a scandal that didn't exist, while also obtaining sensitive information and creating a foundation for future voter-suppression efforts.

Or put another way, Trump's voting commission wasn't looking for fraud. Trump's voting commission was the fraud.

True to form, the president continued to whine this morning, pushing a related conspiracy theory: states only balked at the commission's ridiculous requests, Trump argued, because "they know that many people are voting illegally."

It's almost impressive how Trump incorporates conspiracy theories within conspiracy theories as part of a megalomaniacal exercise to justify receiving fewer votes than Hillary Clinton.

And while the end of this farce is welcome news, there's no reason to allow this mess to be swept under the rug. Trump World spent months wasting public resources, misleading the public, and pursuing evidence that objective observers knew in advance didn't exist. The president is cutting his losses and bringing this fiasco to an embarrassing end, but there's no reason to simply let the White House wash its hands of such an ignominious failure.

Where's the public explanation for this wasteful endeavor? Where's the accountability?