Another Dem ‘PR Stunt’: House Votes to Hold Barr and Ross in Contempt for Defying Subpoenas re: Census Citizenship Question; DOJ Won’t Comply

  • On Wednesday, the House voted to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt for not complying with Congressional subpoenas regarding the investigation into including the citizenship question on the 2020 census.
  • This marks only the second time in American history that a current Cabinet official has been held in contempt in Congress.
  • In a 230-198 vote, largely along party lines, the House voted for the Justice Department to prosecute the two men. However, the move is mostly for show since the Trump administration’s DOJ won’t act on the vote.
  • Ahead of the vote, Barr and Ross wrote a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that read: “We strongly disagree with any suggestion that our departments have obstructed this investigation. It is unfortunate that the House has scheduled a vote to hold two sitting members of the president’s Cabinet in contempt of Congress given the clear record of cooperation.”
  • The White House has already blasted the move and released a statement that asserted the Commerce and Justice Departments have already handed over 310,000 documents to the House regarding the probe.
  • White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement: “Instead of accepting the numerous good-faith efforts of accommodation the Departments have made, Democrats continue to demand documents that are subject to executive privilege.”
  • Grisham added: “House Democrats know they have no legal right to these documents, but their shameful and cynical politics know no bounds.”
  • Ross described the vote as a “PR stunt” and said: “It is an unfortunate fact that there are some who would like nothing more than to see this Administration fail whatever the cost to the country may be.”
  • Ross added: “Preferring to play political games rather than help lead the country, they have made every attempt to ascribe evil motivations to everyday functions of government.”
  • However, Democratic chairman of the Oversight Committee Rep. Elijah Cummings said: “I do not take this decision lightly. Holding any secretary in criminal contempt of Congress is a serious and sober matter, one that I have done everything in my power to avoid.”
  • Cummings added: “But in the case of the attorney general and Secretary Ross, they blatantly obstructed our ability to do congressional oversight into the real reason Secretary Ross was trying, for the first time in 70 years, to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.”
  • Back in 2012, the Republican-led House held then-Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt for failing to submit documents relating to the “Operation Fast and Furious” investigation.

Reference Links

  • Politico: House holds William Barr, Wilbur Ross in criminal contempt of Congress READ
  • Fox: House holds Barr, Ross in criminal contempt, as GOP decries ‘more political theater’ READ
  • The Hill: White House blasts ‘shameful and cynical’ Barr, Ross contempt vote READ
  • New York Post: House holds AG Barr, Ross in contempt over 2020 census citizenship question READ

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