Remember when Kris Kobach was photographed going into a meeting with Donald Trump while holding papers that appeared to offer a glimpse of potential new national voting restrictions?
Well, it looks like we might get to find out what those papers said.
A federal judge on Monday ordered the Kansas Secretary of State to disclose the papers as part of an ongoing lawsuit by the ACLU over a Kansas law, strongly backed by Kobach, requiring that people registering to vote provide documentary proof of citizenship.
In the photograph, taken in November after the election, Kobach stands grinning next to Trump, while holding papers which discuss immigration policy as well as “voter rolls.” Kobach, a Republican hardliner on both immigration and voting, was a key adviser to Trump’s campaign and was reportedly considered for a post running the Department of Homeland Security, though he wasn’t nominated.
The photo set off speculation that Kobach and Trump could have discussing tightening federal voting law, perhaps by adding a proof of citizenship requirement to the National Voter Registration Act, known as Motor Voter.
The ACLU argues that if Kobach and Trump did indeed discuss changes to Motor Voter along the lines of the Kansas law, then the papers in Kobach’s hand may be relevant to the ACLU’s case challenging the Kansas law.
Kobach had argued that the papers were protected by Trump’s executive privilege—even though Trump wasn’t president at the time the photo was taken. U.S. Judge James O’Hara rejected that argument, noting that the White House hasn’t asserted executive privilege over the documents.
Numerous courts have ruled against Kobach in his ongoing legal battle with the ACLU over the controversial 2011 proof of citizenship law, which voting rights advocates say has made it much more difficult to register new voters in Kansas. Kobach is currently barred from enforcing the law to voters in federal elections.