The House Committee on Oversight and Reform is ready to move forward with a plan to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress.
Both Barr and Ross have refused to comply with subpoenas from Congress seeking further information about a proposal to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.
“Unfortunately, your actions are part of a pattern,” House Oversight and Reform Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) wrote to Barr and Ross in two separate letters on Monday. “The Trump administration has been engaged in one of the most unprecedented cover-ups since Watergate, extending from the White House to multiple federal agencies and departments of the government and across numerous investigations.”
The contempt vote has not been scheduled and Cummings said he will consider pushing off the vote if Barr and Ross comply and hand over documents that have been requested by Congress by Thursday.
Cummings and other Democrats believe that the citizenship question proposal is a strategic move to help Republicans in future elections. Cummings argues that the question is a way “to gerrymander congressional districts in overtly racist, partisan, and unconstitutional ways.”
This alleged motivation is what Cummings and other House Democrats are seeking to investigate. The requested documents from Barr and Ross include emails, memos and any related communication with the White House, the Republican National Committee and Trump’s presidential campaign.
The House Oversight Committee originally issued its subpoenas in April. Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Gore appeared before the committee behind closed doors, but he refused to answer specific questions about the proposal. Gore later skipped a deposition after reportedly being told by the Justice Department not to attend.
Cummings called these efforts part of a “cover-up.”
“The tactics of this cover-up are now clear,” Cummings said. “The administration has been challenging Congress’ core authority to conduct oversight under the Constitution, questioning the legislative bases for congressional inquiries, objecting to committee rules and precedents that have been in place for decades under both Republican and Democratic leadership, and making baseless legal arguments to avoid producing documents and testimony.”
Though the contempt vote is not officially scheduled, it is rumored to be taking place on June 11.
A contempt vote would only be the latest example of Congress and the Justice Department not being able to work together. Barr was previously held in contempt of Congress by the House Judiciary Committee for refusing to hand over the unredacted Mueller report and other related documents, and also for refusing to testify before them on the release of the report — he had already testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The House is expected to vote on that contempt citation later this month.
One would think a citizenship question being added to the census is a rather simple proposal, but the response by Democrats shows that we have entered a dangerous stage in politics where the left will do everything they can to turn those they disagree with into criminals in the eyes of the government. Congressional Democrats have shown time and time again that they are focused on nothing except going after the president and anyone they view as an ally to him.
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