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Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Photo: Christopher Smith / For the Washington Post

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who led President Trump's now-disbanded voter fraud commission, will attend a federal trial starting Tuesday over a legal challenge to a law he championed that had blocked tens of thousands of voter registrations because it requires residents to provide proof of citizenship.

Why it matters: The trial, expected to last seven days, will be a major test to Kansas’ sweeping voter registration laws as well as Kobach, who helped fuel the president's unsubstantiated claims that millions of fraudulent votes had cost him the popular vote. He said the law was intended to curb voter fraud, but now has to prove that Kansas has that problem — a similar undertaking his commission had failed to provide concrete evidence of.

The details: Under the law that went into effect in 2013, people registering to vote at the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles are mandated to present documentary proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate, naturalization papers or a passport.

  • Only three other states — Arizona, Georgia and Alabama — have similar proof of citizenship laws. However, only Arizona implements it. Eligible voters there who lack proof of citizenship to register can only vote in federal elections. Meanwhile, other states allow people to swear their citizenship under penalty of perjury.

What they're saying: The American Civil Liberties Union, which filed the lawsuit on behalf of voters, argue that the law violates the National Voter Registration Act that's designed to make the registration process as easy as possible by requiring minimal information. This is the key argument of the case.

  • The ACLU said more than 35,000 people were blocked from registering to vote from 2013 to 2016. Critics also contend that the law disenfranchises minorities, elders and college students who tend to vote Democratic and may not have the required documents readily available

Kobach's office didn't respond to request for comment ahead of the trial, but has staunchly defended the law in court filings, saying it's needed to prevent voter fraud by people in the country illegally. Kobach, an immigration hardliner who is running for governor, claimed that 127 noncitizens in Kansas had registered or attempted to register before the law went into effect.

The ACLU has kind of declared war on election security laws like ours in Kansas. This war is something that is outrageous. They’re making ridiculous arguments like it’s an unconstitutional burden for you to reach into your file cabinet at home and find your birth certificate.
— Kobach said in a Fox News interview last week.

The backdrop: Courts have temporarily blocked the state from fully implementing the law and ordered Kobach to register anyone who have registered at the motor vehicle office, whether they have provided a document proving their citizenship. The injunctions still hold until the case is settled.

Go deeper

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

John Weaver, Lincoln Project co-founder, acknowledges “inappropriate” messages

John Weaver aboard John McCain's campaign plane in February 2000. Photo: Robert Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)

John Weaver, a veteran Republican operative who co-founded the Lincoln Project, declared in a statement to Axios on Friday that he sent “inappropriate,” sexually charged messages to multiple men.

  • “To the men I made uncomfortable through my messages that I viewed as consensual mutual conversations at the time: I am truly sorry. They were inappropriate and it was because of my failings that this discomfort was brought on you,” Weaver said.
  • “The truth is that I'm gay,” he added. “And that I have a wife and two kids who I love. My inability to reconcile those two truths has led to this agonizing place.”