US House of Representatives holds two Cabinet officers in criminal contempt of Congress
Saturday, July 20, 2019
The United States House of Representatives voted to hold two current Cabinet officers, and , in contempt of Congress, citing their refusal to disclose to Congress documents related to President Donald Trump's attempt to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. The vote passed primarily along party lines, 230-to-198. Historically, the has not pursued criminal charges against those held in contempt of Congress.
In April, theauthorized subpoenas for documents relating to the administration's decision to try to add a question about citizenship to the census, attempting to discern the true reason for the addition of the citizenship question. Barr and Ross, however, refused to hand over the documents. On June 12, minutes before the Oversight Committee voted to refer them to the full House to be held in contempt, Trump formally claimed the documents were subject to .
For weeks, the Trump administration has been trying to add the question, "Is this person a citizen of the United States?", to the upcoming 2020 census, with the stated rationale of improving enforcement of the United States Supreme Court ruled against its initial attempt, saying the justification presented for the question was "contrived." A few days later, on July 2, Trump announced he would drop his bid to add the question, before reversing course the next day and pressing forward. A few days later the administration said he would use an executive order to add the citizenship question to the census, disregarding the Supreme Court's ruling. The administration finally gave up on July 11, arranging instead to provide citizenship information to the Census Bureau from other government agencies.. In late June, the
Only once before has Congress voted to hold a Cabinet officer in contempt while they were in office: Attorney Generalwas held in contempt in 2012 for refusing to turn over documents related to . People held in contempt of Congress are referred to the Department of Justice for potential criminal prosecution. As Attorney General, Barr leads the Department of Justice. Kerri Kupec, spokeswoman for the Trump administration's Department of Justice, sharply criticized the House's decision, which Ross has referred to as "gamesmanship" and a "stunt".
The citizenship question was last included in the general census in.
- Nicholas Fandos. "House Holds Barr and Ross in Contempt Over Census Dispute" — , July 17, 2019
- Felicia Sonmez. "House votes to hold Attorney General Barr, Commerce Secretary Ross in contempt for failing to comply with subpoena on 2020 Census" — , July 17, 2019
- Andrew Desiderio. "House holds William Barr, Wilbur Ross in criminal contempt of Congress" — , July 17, 2019
- Tim Mak. "House Holds Attorney General And Commerce Secretary In Contempt Over Census Probe" — , July 17, 2019
- David Jackson and Ledyard King. "Donald Trump drops fight to get citizenship question on 2020 census; other federal records to be used" — , July 11, 2019
- "Confusion as Trump insists he plans to add citizenship question to 2020 census" — , July 3, 2019
- Andrew Desiderio. "House panel votes to hold Barr, Ross in contempt" — , June 12, 2019
- Christal Hayes. "Democrats could hold AG Barr in contempt of Congress. What is that and can it actually be used?" — , May 3, 2019
- Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives. "FINAL VOTE RESULTS FOR ROLL CALL 489" — , July 17, 2019
- "Department of Commerce et al. v. New York et al." — , June 27, 2019 (PDF)