WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Wednesday asserted executive privilege to block details surrounding his administration’s decision to add citizenship questions to the 2020 Census from reaching Congress.
The move came in direct challenge to a subpoena issued by the House of Representatives Oversight Committee as they prepare to vote on holding two members of Trump’s Cabinet – Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Attorney General William Barr – in contempt of Congress over the issue.
On Wednesday, however, a defiant Trump refused to back down.
“When you have a census and you’re not allowed to talk about whether or not somebody’s a citizen or not, that doesn’t sound so good to me. … It’s totally ridiculous that we would have a census without asking,” Trump told reporters at the White House.
Democrats, however, countered that the decision to include the questions had little to do with citizenship and more to do with race.
“Is it really about citizenship? No. It’s about reducing the number of people of color being counted in the census. That’s exactly what it’s about,” Representative Rashida Tlaib told members of the media when questioned on the matter.
“This does not appear to be a good faith effort at negotiation,” Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings said during a meeting he convened to vote on holding Ross and Barr in contempt. “Instead it appears to be another example of the administration’s blanket defiance of Congress’s constitutionally mandated authority. … This begs the question: what is being hidden?”
The matter has been a long fought one for the Trump administration. A ruling is due from the U.S. Supreme Court by the end of the month regarding the Trump administration’s appeal of a judge’s ruling that blocked the addition of the questions as a violation of federal law.