President Donald Trump is claiming executive privilege over administration documents regarding the addition of a citizenship question on the 2020 census form, as House Democrats prepare to hold two cabinet secretaries in contempt over the dispute.
The move comes after Attorney General William Barr warned that President Trump would assert privilege over the census records if the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee proceeded with plans to hold Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt.
“The [Department of Justice] has explained to the committee on several occasions that these identified documents consist of attorney-client communications, attorney work product, and deliberative communications, and a federal court has already held many of these documents to be privileged in litigation,” Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd told House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman Elijah Cummings in a Wednesday letter.
“By proceeding with today’s vote, you have abandoned the accommodation process with respect to your requests and subpoenas for documents concerning the secretary’s decision to include a citizenship question on the 2020 census,” Boyd added.
The committee’s vote still needs to be ratified by the full House. Thereafter, Cummings will have authority to ask a federal court to enforce their subpoenas against Barr and Ross. The Commerce Department supervises the Census Bureau.
“We must protect the integrity of the census and stand up for Congress’ authority under the Constitution to conduct meaningful oversight,” Cummings said after Wednesday’s letter.
The dispute comes as the Supreme Court is considering whether to allow the citizenship question on the census form. Democrats and civil rights groups say the question will reduce minority participation in the census.
This is breaking news. This post will be updated.
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