House votes to hold senior Trump officials in contempt over census dispute

Attempt to ask about citizenship on 2020 census was already shot down but Democrats still want answers

Lily Puckett
New York
Thursday 18 July 2019 00:00
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The House has voted to hold attorney general William Barr and commerce secretary Wilbur Ross, in criminal contempt for refusing to turn over documents related to the Trump administration’s efforts to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

Those investigating the issue believe the documents and testimony being withheld would confirm that the citizenship question, which the administration claims was suggested in attempt to strengthen Voting Rights Act, was actually an attempt to manipulate population statistics to control political representation.

Last month, the Supreme Court blocked this attempt altogether, suggesting that it too felt the administration's real reason for the new question was politically motivated.

The president was furious with the court’s decision, and tweeted several times that he intended to act around them. Last week, he said his administration would not attempt to do so.

Democrats said Wednesday that their investigation would continue regardless of the president’s defeat.

“It is bigger than the census. It is about protecting the integrity of the Congress of the United States of America,” congressman Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the oversight committee chairman, said on the House floor. “We need to understand how and why the Trump administration tried to add a question based on pretext so that we can consider reforms to ensure that this never happens again.”

The 230-198 vote along party lines comes just after a failure to proceed with impeachment hearings, and one day after the House approved a resolution condemning the president’s racist tweets about four non-white congresswomen.

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