Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach won’t hand over the documents from his November meeting with President Donald Trump just yet.
Kobach filed a motion in federal court Wednesday to stay an order from a federal magistrate judge requiring him to share the documents with the American Civil Liberties Union as part of a lawsuit about voting rights in Kansas.
Kobach met with Trump at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., weeks after the Republican won the presidency. Kobach was photographed carrying a stack of papers that was labeled as a strategic plan for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and that contained a reference to voter rolls.
The ACLU has sought access to the documents and to a draft amendment to the National Voter Registration Act, which Kobach has crafted and shared with his staff, as part of a federal lawsuit seeking to overturn a Kansas law. That law requires voters to provide proof of citizenship, such as birth certificate, when they register to vote.
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The organization argues that if Kobach lobbied Trump on changes to the act, it would amount to an admission that current federal law precludes him from enforcing the policy. Kobach has argued for several years that the policy prevents non-citizens from casting ballots in Kansas elections, but critics say it prevents some rightful voters from becoming registered.
Judge James O’Hara, a federal magistrate judge in Kansas City, Kan., ordered Kobach on Monday to hand over the documents.
Kobach is appealing O’Hara’s decision to U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson. He has asked O’Hara to stay his order for 14 days to allow him time to file the appeal with Robinson.
“If Judge Robinson ultimately affirms the Magistrate’s decision, the documents will be produced as Magistrate O’Hara required thereafter,” Kobach’s attorney, Garrett Roe, stated in the court filing. “It is unclear that there is any harm to the public interest therefore in a brief delay in disclosure of a few redacted portions of two documents.”
Kobach has a history of legal defeats in Robinson’s courtroom.
Robinson blocked Kobach from enforcing the proof of citizenship requirement during the November election for voters who had registered at Department of Motor Vehicles offices. She had scheduled a contempt hearing for Kobach in September for failing to comply with that order, but canceled it after he struck an agreement with the ACLU for the November election.
O’Hara has given the ACLU until Friday to respond to Kobach’s motion.
Doug Bonney, chief counsel of the ACLU in Kansas, said that it’s clear Kobach is “desperate that we not see these documents and that of course makes us want to see them more.”
Kobach has argued that the documents are protected by Trump’s executive privilege, an argument that O’Hara rejected in his Monday order.