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PoliticsDOJ fires back at allegations over GOP strategist's role in census citizenship question

05:00  04 june  2019
05:00  04 june  2019 Source:   thehill.com

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The Department of Justice ( DOJ ) on Monday sought to refute new allegations that a GOP redistricting operative played a significant role in getting a citizenship question on the 2020 census , calling the claims false and without merit.

Newly uncovered evidence shows that a Republican redistricting strategist played a significant role in the Trump administration’ s efforts to add a citizenship question to the census , undercutting the administration’ s argument that the question is needed to enforce the Voting Rights Act.

DOJ fires back at allegations over GOP strategist's role in census citizenship question© iStock DOJ fires back at allegations over GOP strategist's role in census citizenship question

The Department of Justice on Monday sought to refute new allegations that a GOP redistricting operative played a significant role in getting a citizenship question on the 2020 census, calling the claims false and without merit.

In a new court filing, DOJ lawyers offered a biting rebuke to the allegations made against Trump administration officials of attempting to obscure the role of the late GOP operative Thomas Hofeller in adding the citizenship question.

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A lawyer with the Department of Justice ( DOJ ) said Wednesday that agency officials have been ordered to determine whether there is a way the administration can include a citizenship question on the 2020 census , hours after a tweet from P.

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"The motion borders on frivolous, and appears to be an attempt to reopen the evidence in this already-closed case and to drag this Court into Plaintiffs' eleventh-hour campaign to improperly derail the Supreme Court's resolution of the government's appeal," the letter filed in federal court in New York reads.

The ACLU on Friday dropped what appeared to a bombshell court filing, alleging that Hofeller conducted a 2015 study that found asking about citizenship on the census would help Republicans and hurt Latinos and Democrats in redistricting. And the group claimed that officials did not disclose Hofeller's role in getting the question added to the census.

The DOJ, in this new court filing, said contrary to the ACLU's claims, the group has no evidence DOJ official John Gore "ever read, received, or was even aware of the existence of that unpublished study" or that he knew of it when writing an agency letter in favor of the citizenship question.

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Democrats pounce on citizenship question revelations Democrats on the House Oversight and Reform Committee charged Thursday that new documents cited by an advocacy group show that President Donald Trump added a citizenship question to the 2020 census primarily to give Republicans the upper hand in the next round of congressional redistricting. The documents, which allegedly show that a Republican strategist pushed the administration to include the question for partisan gain, were revealed amid months of conflict between the committee and the administration that culminated recently in the head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division defying a subpoena.

The Justice Department reversed course Wednesday on whether the 2020 census will be printed without a question on citizenship , after President Donald Trump tweeted out a statement contradicting his own government' s position. In a Wednesday afternoon conference call with U. S . District Judge

Census Bureau spokesman Michael C. Cook told The Hill in a statement Sunday that Jones reports to U. S . Census Bureau Deputy Director, Dr. Ron Jarmin. AAJC President John Yang said in a statement that the documentation "explicitly reveals that the citizenship question was motivated by a

And they pushed back against the claim that language authored by Hofeller made it into administration documents promoting the question.

"There is no smoking gun here; only smoke and mirrors," the filing states.

The DOJ lawyers also fired back at the claim that Gore and Mark Neuman, who advised the Commerce Department on the citizenship question, didn't disclose Hofeller's role surrounding the question. They said that the two men were never directly asked questions that would have caused them to discuss Hofeller's alleged involvement.

They wrote that the "lack of testimony from Gore" about receiving a draft letter from Neuman promoting the creation of the question, and Neuman also not sharing that information during his own testimony, "is thus traceable to Plaintiffs' inadequate deposition questioning."

The DOJ further argued that it was too late to add the evidence to the ongoing litigation surrounding the question, as the case has since been closed in district court in New York and is now under review by the Supreme Court.

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A Justice Department spokesperson denied the plaintiffs' allegations , stating that Hofeller' s study "played no role in the Department ' s December 2017 request to reinstate a citizenship question to the 2020 decennial census . These unfounded allegations are an unfortunate

And they said that the heart of the legal issue is whether Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who formally oversaw the question's addition, had "an objectively rational basis for his decision to reinstate the citizenship question."

"Nothing in the private files of a deceased political operative can affect the resolution of that issue," the filing states.

The court document also asserts that Hofeller's 2015 study didn't find that asking about citizenship would impact redistricting, but rather that basing districts on citizen voting age population would have the resulting effect.

"The Department of Justice takes accusations of false testimony very seriously. For the reasons set forth above and in the attached charts, Plaintiffs' accusations are meritless," Monday's filing reads. "Plaintiffs had an obligation to conduct a pre-filing investigation before leveling such inflammatory accusations, especially against a high-ranking DOJ official.

The Hill has reached out to the ACLU for comment. Both parties in the case are set to appear before a federal judge on Wednesday, as he determines whether to issue any sanctions against the Trump administration over the new allegations.

Cummings to move forward with contempt votes for Barr, Ross over census question

Cummings to move forward with contempt votes for Barr, Ross over census question The House Oversight chairman indicated that he would move forward with votes for Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, after they missed a Thursday deadline.

The debate over adding the citizenship question to the 2020 census has engulfed both Congress and the courts.

Three federal judges have ruled against the question, but the Supreme Court's conservative majority appears poised to allow its inclusion on the decennial census.

And shortly before DOJ made its court filing, House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) announced that his panel will vote to hold Ross and Attorney General William Barr in contempt for failing to comply with congressional subpoenas issued in a probe surrounding the citizenship question.

Cummings gave the officials until Thursday to hand over certain documents pertaining to the census investigation, including those on Hofeller's alleged involvement, before moving forward with the contempt votes.

A spokesperson for the Commerce Department in a statement called the threat to hold Ross in contempt an attempt "to desperately and improperly influence the Supreme Court with mere insinuations and conspiracy theories."

Read More

Fight Over Census Documents Centers on Motive for a Citizenship Question.
The fight between Congress and President Trump over census documents revolves around one crucial issue: discerning the true motive of the Trump administration when it made a historic decision to ask all residents in the country if they were an American citizen. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who oversees the Census Bureau, has long claimed that the government needs more accurate data on citizenship to enforce the Voting Rights Act of 1965. But a growing body of evidence — unearthed in lawsuits seeking to block the question — suggests that the administration added the question to entrench Republicans in power.

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