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Sen. Chuck Schumer called on President Donald Trump on Thursday to dissolve his controversial vote fraud commission, blasting it as a voter suppression tool pushing the agenda of the same white supremacists who violently protested in Charlottesville.
"When the president began his 'Election Integrity Commission,' it raised a lot of eyebrows," Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a post published on the website Medium. "But now, given what’s happened in the last several weeks, we’ve entered a new world and it’s even more important that the commission be disbanded."
Schumer charged that the president failed to unite the country after the deadly clash of white supremacists and counter-protesters in the Virginia college town on August 12 and condemned Trump's initial remarks as part of the administration’s "methodical and pernicious" way of promoting discrimination.
He called the vote fraud panel and Department of Justice "wolves in sheep’s clothing" for their recent efforts to collect a massive amount of detailed nationwide voter data, which critics fear could be used to purge legal voters from the rolls.
"They are a ruse. Their only intention is to disenfranchise voters," Schumer wrote. "This is how the appalling failure to use the right words and stand up to hate in the aftermath of Charlottesville is made real in the form of policy; they are two edges of the same sword."
The commission was formed by Trump in May through executive order to study "vulnerabilities" in the election system.
Since its creation, the panel has ignited a bipartisan backlash, with some fearing that it is laying the groundwork for voter suppression and furthering the president’s unfounded claim that millions of illegal votes cost him the popular vote in the 2016 election.
"Under the guise of voter fraud, which experts agree is practically non-existent, conservative forces in the administration, cheered on by white-supremacy-stoking publications like Breitbart News, are reviving the old playbook of disenfranchising minority voters," Schumer said.
"Unfortunately, hardly anything would make the torch-bearing men who just marched on Charlottesville any happier than for this effort to succeed," he added.
Schumer said the president displayed an "astounding failure of both presidential and moral leadership" by not quickly denouncing the torch-led march by white supremacists in Charlottesville, which resulted in one death and 19 injuries. The president came under widespread criticism for saying "both sides" were responsible for the violence.
Schumer called on the president to rescind his executive order that created the fraud commission and, if he does not, urged lawmakers to hamstring the panel through legislative action. "The president’s recent failure to unequivocally condemn bigotry makes its rescission imperative," he said.
He also called for a series of public hearings on voting rights, encouraging Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, co-chair of the commission and vote-fraud hardliner, to testify.
"I believe that one important way that Congress can begin to heal this painful divide in our country when we return in September is by showing that we can come together to stop the systemic disenfranchisement of American voters," he said.
The vote fraud commission did not respond to a request for comment.