Court filing: Pence wrong on RNC-Trump 'ballot security' cooperation

Story highlights

  • The RNC is not allowed to work with the Trump campaign on ballot security activities
  • Trump has actively urged backers to watch for anything suspicious

Washington (CNN)GOP vice presidential nominee Mike Pence was mistaken when he told supporters this summer that the Donald Trump campaign, Republican National Committee and states were coordinating on "ballot security" efforts, an RNC lawyer says in federal court papers filed this week.

In a filing Wednesday, RNC Chief Counsel John Phillippe Jr. said he spoke by phone with Pence and the Indiana governor confirmed there was no arrangement despite his comments made at an August town hall in Denver.
"The Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee are working very, very closely with state governments and secretaries of states all over the country to ensure ballot integrity," Pence said on August 3 in Denver.
    The issue for the RNC: it's not allowed to work with the Trump campaign on ballot security activities because of a decades-old consent decree.
    So while Trump has actively urged backers to watch for anything suspicious, the RNC can't be involved.
    "Go down to certain areas and watch and study and make sure other people don't come in and vote five times," Trump said at a rally in Pennsylvania this summer.
    Democratic lawyers have already gone to court in New Jersey asking that the judge extend the consent decree for several more years -- it is currently set to expire in December 2017 -- arguing that the RNC has enabled Trump's efforts to "intimidate and discourage minority voters" from voting.
    Judge John Michael Vazquez has scheduled a hearing for Friday morning in Newark to discuss the case, including Pence's comments.
    In his filing, Phillippe said he and other RNC personnel investigated the matter in a series of interview with RNC Chairman Reince Priebus and several top committee staffers. They also "reviewed RNC electronic and hard-copy files for any agreement with Mr. Trump or his campaign related to voter fraud, ballot security, ballot integrity, poll watching or poll monitoring activities," and found no such document.
    Pence told Phillippe via phone this week that he didn't know about any cooperation between the RNC and Trump campaign.
    "Governor Pence stated to me that he has 'no knowledge whatsoever' of any effort between the Trump campaign and the RNC to ensure ballot integrity," Phillippe wrote. "He further stated that he neither ever has been a part of, nor is aware of, any discussions between the Trump campaign and the RNC concerning any efforts to ensure ballot integrity or that would suggest any RNC involvement in such activities."
    Phillippe added that he and Donald McGahn, general counsel of the Trump campaign, spoke and confirmed "that the RNC would not be involved in any such activities, and that, to the extent it was involved in any of these activities, the Trump campaign would not receive any assistance from the RNC whatsoever."