House Democratic leadership has indicated that there will “soon” be a full House vote to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in criminal contempt over their failure to comply with subpoenas regarding the citizenship question on the census form, a source told Fox News.
Opponents of the citizenship question said it would discourage participation by immigrants and residents who are in the country illegally, resulting in inaccurate figures for a count that determines the distribution of some $675 billion in federal spending and how many congressional districts each state gets.
WHITE HOUSE DEFENDS ‘LAWFUL’ CITIZENSHIP QUESTION ON FOX NEWS
The Trump administration had said the question was being added to aid in the enforcement of the Voting Rights Act, which protects minority voters’ access to the ballot box. But in the Supreme Court’s decision, Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court’s four more liberal members in saying the administration’s current justification for the question “seems to have been contrived.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused Trump of wanting to “make America white again.”
If the House votes to hold Barr and Ross in criminal contempt, the measure would head to the Justice Department, which Barr heads. He would likely recuse himself and ask someone else to consider the petition.
Politico reported that being held in contempt would be “an embarrassment for the Trump administration officials but would not lead to many tangible consequences.”
Barr said earlier that the Trump administration would take action in the days ahead that he believes will allow a question on citizenship to be added to next year’s census.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Barr offered no details except to say he sees a way to legally require census respondents to say whether or not they are citizens.
The Justice Department announced it is replacing the legal team that has been pursuing Trump’s efforts, putting in place a new team consisting of both career and politically appointed attorneys.
Barr said he didn’t have details on why the attorneys didn’t want to continue, but “as far as I know, they don’t think we are legally wrong.”
Barr said he has been in regular contact with Trump over the issue of the citizenship question. “I agree with him that the Supreme Court decision was wrong,” the attorney general said. He said he believes there is “an opportunity potentially to cure the lack of clarity that was the problem and we might as well take a shot at doing that.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report