Republicans scrambled to distance themselves from the letter’s call for private data like birthdates and partial Social Security numbers without impugning their president’s claim or his commission. But giving the claim credibility placed them in the awkward position of saying either that other secretaries had overlooked millions of illegal votes, or that they had found them and lied about it.
Asked at a news conference on Friday whether Mr. Trump’s assertion of millions of illegal votes was credible, one of the Democratic secretaries of state on the White House panel, Matthew Dunlap of Maine, said that he “would be stunned to see a number anywhere near that.” He noted that he had failed to find a single verifiable case of fraud in his 11 years on the job.
Ms. Lawson, the Indiana secretary of state and a Republican on the commission, gave a more contorted response. “They know they can’t get by with it in Indiana,” she said, but “I can’t speak to what happens in other states.” Asked whether she personally believed Mr. Trump’s claim, she repeated her answer.