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PoliticsCensus Fight Grows as House Panel Backs Contempt and Trump Asserts Privilege

01:20  13 june  2019
01:20  13 june  2019 Source:   nytimes.com

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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. require(["medianetNativeAdOnArticle"], function (medianetNativeAdOnArticle) { medianetNativeAdOnArticle.getMedianetNativeAds(true); }); 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.

The Trump administration has called a House investigation an attempt to meddle in the legal fight over a question about citizenship on the census .Credit WASHINGTON — A House committee voted on Wednesday to recommend that two cabinet secretaries be held in contempt of Congress, hours after

House panel votes contempt for Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur 12, 2017, letter to the U.S. Census Bureau. Trump also protectively asserted executive privilege over The census fight followed a House vote Tuesday to authorize lawsuits to enforce subpoenas against

Video by Reuters

WASHINGTON — A House committee voted on Wednesday to recommend that the House hold two cabinet secretaries in contempt of Congress, hours after President Trump invoked executive privilege to block disclosure of crucial documents on the decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

The House Oversight and Reform Committee’s contempt recommendation for Attorney General William P. Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross sets up a possible vote on the House floor in the coming weeks. It was the culmination of a monthslong dispute with the administration over the panel’s efforts to compel testimony from top officials and documents related to the census question. The vote was mostly along party lines, with only one Republican, Representative Justin Amash of Michigan, the sole member of his party to call for Mr. Trump’s impeachment, supporting it.

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Census Fight Grows as House Panel Backs Contempt and Trump Asserts Privilege . President Trump asserts executive privilege over Census citizenship question documents as Democrats move toward holding 2 cabinet secretaries in contempt .

House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings said in a statement that the " contempt vote was the last thing I wanted to do," adding, "I bent over backwards to try to Earlier Wednesday, the Department of Justice informed the House Oversight Committee that Trump has asserted executive privilege over

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It was the latest front in an escalating conflict between Mr. Trump and the Democratic House, as lawmakers step up their attempts to perform oversight of the government and the executive branch moves to keep its internal deliberations confidential. The fight could ultimately result in a lengthy court battle over the ill-defined line between those rival constitutional powers.

At issue on Wednesday was a politically fraught battle over the committee’s attempts to investigate the Trump administration’s decision to ask 2020 census respondents whether they are citizens, an issue that has gone all the way to the Supreme Court. The court is expected to decide the legality of the question within weeks.

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The House Oversight Committee voted Wednesday to recommend the full House hold Attorney General Bill Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress, after President Donald Trump asserted executive privilege over materials related to the committee's census

Trump and members of his inner circle have repeatedly ignored official demands and requests from Trump last month also invoked it to block a House panel from getting an unredacted copy of The fight over adding a citizenship question to the census presents high stakes for both Trump 's fellow

Democrats have charged that the move is a politically motivated attempt by Republicans to intimidate noncitizens and ultimately depress responses from people of color, leading to less representation for communities that tend to vote for them.

Before the contempt vote, the Justice Department informed Representative Elijah E. Cummings, Democrat of Maryland and the committee chairman, that Mr. Trump had decided to invoke his secrecy powers because Mr. Cummings had “chosen to go forward with an unnecessary and premature contempt vote.”

Census Fight Grows as House Panel Backs Contempt and Trump Asserts Privilege© T.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times “This begs the question,” Representative Elijah E. Cummings, the chairman of the Oversight Committee, said. “What is being hidden?”

“We must protect the integrity of the census, and we will stand up for Congress’s authority under the Constitution to conduct meaningful oversight,” Mr. Cummings said, calling the privilege claim “another example of the administration’s blanket defiance of Congress’s constitutionally mandated responsibilities.”

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WASHINGTON >> A House committee voted today to hold two top Trump administration officials in contempt of Congress for failing to comply with subpoenas for documents related to a decision adding a citizenship The vote came as the White House asserted executive privilege on the matter today.

By asserting executive privilege , the White House is denying Congress access to the evidence gathered during Nadler said the privilege assertion is “not a valid claim…because executive privilege has been broadly Investigation launched into viral video of fight at Hardin Valley Academy.

“This begs the question,” Mr. Cummings added, “what is being hidden?”

At the White House, Mr. Trump defended his administration’s push to include a citizenship question in the 2020 census: “When a census goes out, you should find out whether or not — and you have the right to ask whether or not — somebody is a citizen of the United States,” he said as he met with Poland’s president, Andrzej Duda.

But on the committee, Democrats demanded to see the deliberations behind the question. In their census investigation, they said, the administration had provided little more than unresponsive documents and stonewalling of critical deposition requests.

“It is indeed laughable” to say that the administration had cooperated with the panel, said Representative Stephen F. Lynch, Democrat of Massachusetts, brandishing a blacked-out page with no text visible as an example of the heavily redacted material the Commerce Department had sent. “We’ve reached our limit.”

After the vote, Mr. Ross called the Democrats’ action part of a series of “shameless, weekly attacks on this administration.” Kerri Kupec, a spokeswoman for the Justice Department, said the vote “defies logic” given the department’s efforts to cooperate with the committee, and “undermines Congress’s credibility with the American people.”

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Census Fight Grows as House Panel Backs Contempt and Trump Asserts Privilege© Gabriella Demczuk for The New York Times The Trump administration has called a House investigation an attempt to meddle in the legal fight over a question about citizenship on the census.

In separate letters from the Justice Department and the Department of Commerce, administration officials maintained they had already turned over many materials in response to the subpoena, but that they had to keep certain information confidential to protect the candor of internal and attorney-client deliberations. Still, both officials made it clear that the privilege assertion was in retaliation for the panel’s insistence on issuing contempt citations for Mr. Barr and Mr. Ross.

“The Department regrets that you have made this assertion necessary by your insistence upon scheduling a premature contempt vote,” the letter from the Commerce Department said.

The Justice Department also sent Mr. Cummings a memo to Mr. Trump from Mr. Barr arguing that the executive branch had a “strong interest” in keeping the materials secret to protect its ability to perform its functions, while Congress had not established that obtaining the information was critical to its “legitimate legislative functions.”

[Read the letter to Congress, along with a letter to Mr. Trump from Mr. Barr.]

Trump asserts executive privilege to shield documents on Census citizenship question

Trump asserts executive privilege to shield documents on Census citizenship question The move came as a House panel was moving toward holding two members of the administration in contempt.

The standoff was the latest move in an intensifying confrontation between House Democrats and Mr. Trump, who has vowed to fight “all” their oversight investigation subpoenas. It increased the prospects that the fight will end up in a prolonged legal battle.

There are few precedents in that area of the law to provide definitive guideposts about where to draw the line between Congress’ oversight power and the president’s authority to keep information secret because past disputes have largely been resolved through negotiations and accommodations, so the matter never reached the Supreme Court.

But Mr. Trump’s unabashed vow to fight House Democrats’ efforts to scrutinize his actions and those of his administration across a range of fronts — including seeking disclosure of his hidden tax returns, how some of Mr. Trump’s associates obtained security clearances, and underlying evidence from Robert S. Mueller III’s inquiry — have raised the prospect of litigation that is appealed all the way to the highest court, providing a clearer understanding of the law but running out the clock on Mr. Trump’s term.

The House voted on Tuesday to authorize the Judiciary Committee to file a lawsuit asking a judge to order the executive branch to comply with two subpoenas related to the Mueller investigation, and explicitly empowering committees to file such litigation over other subpoenas without votes of the full House. But to date the House has not voted to hold any Trump official in contempt of Congress.

The fight over the 2020 census citizenship question, explained

The fight over the 2020 census citizenship question, explained The battle over a simple question involves both Congress and the Supreme Court. And the stakes are high.

The fight over the census centers on liberals’ suspicions that asking respondents to say whether they are American citizens could be a ploy to tilt the every-10-years reapportionment of House seats, shortchanging areas with higher levels of immigrants. They fear that undocumented immigrants or members of their families would be afraid to turn in their questionnaires, resulting in a population undercount.

The Census Bureau has estimated that asking all American residents whether they are citizens may spark a 5.8-percent decline in response rates from noncitizens, which Democrats fear will skew the reapportionment of House seats toward Republicans while depriving states of federal resources. Apportionment of House districts has been based on raw population, not the number of eligible voters.

“I want to know why people like Kris Kobach, with a résumé of voter suppression techniques, have their fingerprints all over the most sensitive census operations that we have as a government,” Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York, said as a bitter debate over the contempt citations unfolded between Republicans and Democrats on the panel. “This determines who is here. This determines who has power in the United States.”

In sworn testimony before Congress, Mr. Ross said he had decided to add the question “solely” in response to a Justice Department request in December 2017 for data to help it enforce the Voting Rights Act of 1965. But emails disclosed during the litigation showed that Mr. Ross had begun discussing the addition of the question several months before that, and that Mr. Kobach, the former Kansas secretary of state and architect of strict voter identification laws, had discussed doing so during Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016. Three federal trial judges have ruled that the evidence in the record demonstrates that Mr. Ross was dissembling.

The Census: Another Brick in Trump’s White House Wall

The Census: Another Brick in Trump’s White House Wall The president is using executive privilege to conceal information the public needs to know.

New evidence from the computer files of a deceased Republican strategist suggests that the administration’s actual reason was to collect information that might allow states to draw voting districts counting only eligible voters rather than all residents, as is the current practice. That would, the strategist wrote, “be advantageous to Republicans and non-Hispanic whites.”

Republicans argued that Democrats were rushing the contempt citations in an attempt to pre-empt the Supreme Court and possibly influence its ruling.

“You are so concerned the Supreme Court’s going to rule on this that you’ve got to get it done before that happens,” said Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, the ranking Republican on the panel. “Why don’t the Democrats want to know how many citizens are in the country?”

Wednesday’s actions in the Oversight Committee marked the second time this year that a committee has recommended members of Mr. Trump’s cabinet be held in contempt of Congress. The Judiciary Committee sought a contempt resolution against Mr. Barr for his refusal to provide the panel an unredacted version of the Mueller report as well as the evidence that supported the special counsel’s conclusions.

House leaders decided for now against voting to hold Mr. Barr in contempt after the Justice Department began on Monday to share some of the special counsel’s evidence with the committee. For the same reason, it is not yet clear whether the House Judiciary Committee will use its authority to file a lawsuit against him.

In the Oversight Committee’s subpoena fight, members have protested Mr. Barr’s instructions to a subordinate involved in the census to defy a subpoena requiring him to appear for a deposition based on a longstanding House rule that government lawyers are not permitted to accompany a witness in the deposition room.

Adam Liptak and Peter Baker contributed reporting.

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The Census: Another Brick in Trump’s White House Wall.
The president is using executive privilege to conceal information the public needs to know.

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