WASHINGTON – President Trump on Wednesday announced that he is disbanding a controversial voter fraud commission launched last year in the wake of his baseless claim that he lost the popular vote to Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016 because of millions of illegally cast ballots.

The commission met only twice amid a series of lawsuits seeking to curb its authority and claims by Democrats that it was stacked to recommend voting restrictions favorable to the president's party.

In a statement, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said there is "substantial evidence of voter fraud" and blamed the ending of the commission on the refusal of many states to provide voter data sought by the commission and the cost of ongoing federal lawsuits.

The bipartisan panel, known as the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, had been nominally chaired by Vice President Pence and led by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a Republican who has aggressively sought to prosecute voter fraud in his state.

In the statement, Sanders said Trump had signed an executive order asking the Department of Homeland Security to review voter fraud issues and "determine next courses of action."

The 11-member commission proved a magnet for controversy from the outset and was sued by one of its own members, Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, who alleged that he has been kept in the dark about its operations, rendering his participation "essentially meaningless." A federal judge last month ruled partly in his favor.