House Oversight Will Vote To Hold Barr, Ross In Contempt On Wednesday

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June 10, 2019 6:39 p.m.

The House Oversight Committee announced on Monday evening that it will vote to hold Attorney General Bill Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt on Wednesday in the Census citizenship question case.

House Oversight Chair Elijah Cummings (D-MD) made good on his warning to Barr and Ross after they refused to comply with the committee’s subpoenas in its investigation into the Trump administration’s move to add a citizenship question to the Census.

“President Trump declared to the entire country that he is fighting all the subpoenas—even when they are bipartisan and seek information on matters as critical as the Census,” Cummings said in a statement. “The Trump Administration has demonstrated repeatedly that it is willing to disregard the Constitution, defy decades of clear precedent, and invent frivolous new arguments to delay and obstruct Congress’ oversight authority, and Attorney General Barr and Secretary Ross are complicit in this cover-up.”

The committee had given Barr and Ross a deadline of June 6 to provide 11 documents on the decision to add the question, along with a full testimony from Justice Department official John Gore.

Ross called the resolution “reckless” and accused the committee of trying to “improperly influence the Supreme Court’s impending decision with media broadsides.”

“The Committee has demonstrated its contempt for the Constitution by its chronic refusal to engage in the constitutionally-mandated accommodation process, which is far more serious than the empty stunt the Committee has planned for Wednesday,” the Commerce secretary said in an emailed statement to TPM.

Read the committee’s resolution, Cummings’ full statement and Ross’ full statement below:

Cummings’ statement:

“President Trump declared to the entire country that he is fighting all the subpoenas—even when they are bipartisan and seek information on matters as critical as the Census. The Trump Administration has demonstrated repeatedly that it is willing to disregard the Constitution, defy decades of clear precedent, and invent frivolous new arguments to delay and obstruct Congress’ oversight authority, and Attorney General Barr and Secretary Ross are complicit in this cover-up.

“I did not want this to happen. I asked Secretary Ross to meet with me personally to try to resolve this impasse, but he refused. Both Secretary Ross and Attorney General Barr are refusing to comply with duly authorized subpoenas from Congress. Because they are in contempt of Congress, on Wednesday, the Committee will vote to move forward to enforce our bipartisan subpoenas. I continue to hope that they will change course and begin producing the information we need to do our job under the Constitution.”

Ross’ statement:

“It is sad for the country that the Committee continues to roll in this reckless direction. I never refused to meet with the Chairman. I did urge him to first provide the information we requested numerous times, and that is why the Committee specifically needs privileged information that the Chairman himself and the litigation process have recognized as confidential. He declined, because the Committee isn’t interested in cooperation – it wants to improperly influence the Supreme Court’s impending decision with media broadsides. The Committee has demonstrated its contempt for the Constitution by its chronic refusal to engage in the constitutionally-mandated accommodation process, which is far more serious than the empty stunt the Committee has planned for Wednesday. Let’s remember, in response to the Committee’s requests, the Department has provided 14,000 pages of documents, I have voluntarily testified before the Committee for nearly seven hours, and we have agreed to make three Department witnesses available for interviews in the next two weeks, including one scheduled for tomorrow.”

This story has been updated to include a statement from Ross.

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