Tuesday, 18 February, 2020

White House slams contempt vote for officials

White House slams contempt vote for officials White House slams contempt vote for officials
Deanna Wagner | 18 July, 2019, 07:40

The House voted Wednesday to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress over the chamber's probe into the administration's now-abandoned attempt to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

After the vote Wednesday, the White House said the action "is ridiculous and yet another lawless attempt to harass the president and his administration". Justin Amash of MI, voted last month to find Ross and Barr in contempt over the investigation, after the Justice Department asserted executive privilege over documents the committee sought.

They sent a letter, which stated they "strongly oppose the pending resolution of the Committee on Oversight and Reform ('Committee') concerning the decision to reinstate a citizenship question on the 2020 Census".

Democrats have been feuding with the Trump administration over the citizenship question since it was announced previous year that the federal government was seeking to add it to the 2020 census.

It marks the first time the full House has voted to hold members of the Trump administration in criminal contempt.

Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec called the vote a "political stunt" in a statement Wednesday night. But at the end of last week, Trump retreated, instead asking government agencies to provide records that could determine a head-count of citizens without polling census-takers directly.

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, pointed to those comments Wednesday and said they underscored that the Voting Rights Act justification was a pretext.

Lawmakers say Barr and Ross refused to hand over key documents shedding light on the administration's push to include the question about U.S. citizenship on the 2020 census, after Donald Trump asserted executive privilege over them.

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Commerce and Justice department officials "obscured evidence suggesting that the true goal of Secretary Ross's decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census - suppressing the political power of minority immigrant communities", alleged lawyers with the ACLU and other groups challenging the question in court. "The committee vote took place hours after President Donald Trump asserted executive privilege over materials related to the citizenship question. stances". He's directing agencies to try to compile the information using existing databases.

Committee Democrats and one then-Republican and now independent, Rep.

The decision left the door open for the administration to return to court with new arguments for adding the question.

Democrats feared that adding the question would reduce participation in immigrant-heavy communities and result in a severe undercount of minority voters.

"The Administration is complying with the Democrats' investigation". But a divided Supreme Court ruled June 27 that Ross's rationale was "contrived" and couldn't be squared with evidence about his true motivations. "Instead of accepting the numerous good-faith efforts of accommodation the Departments have made, Democrats continue to demand documents that are subject to executive privilege". He said that Barr and Ross "blatantly obstructed our ability to do congressional oversight".

Katko, a former federal prosecutor, said in a statement that the contempt vote was not warranted.

The secretary dismissed the vote as "just more political theater", and noted that his department had handed over thousands of pages of documents over to the committee already.