President Donald Trump is claiming executive privilege over administration documents regarding the addition of a citizenship question on the 2020 census form.
This comes as House Democrats prepare to hold two cabinet secretaries in contempt over the dispute.
Attorney General William Barr recently warned that President Trump would assert privilege over the census records if the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee proceeded with plans to hold Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt.
In a Wednesday letter, Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd addressed House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman Elijah Cummings.
“The [Department of Justice] has explained to the committee on several occasions that these identified documents consist of attorney-client communications, attorney work product, and deliberative communications, and a federal court has already held many of these documents to be privileged in litigation,” Boyd wrote.
“By proceeding with today’s vote, you have abandoned the accommodation process with respect to your requests and subpoenas for documents concerning the secretary’s decision to include a citizenship question on the 2020 census,” Boyd added.
The committee’s vote still needs to be ratified by the full House.
Thereafter, Cummings will have authority to ask a federal court to enforce their subpoenas against Barr and Ross.
“Unfortunately, rather than allowing the Department to complete its document production, you have chosen to go forward with an unnecessary and premature contempt vote,” Boyd continued.
“Accordingly, this letter is to advise you that the President has asserted executive privilege over certain subpoenaed documents identified by the Committee in its June 3, 2019 letters to the Attorney General and the Secretary specifically, the documents listed in item 1 of the schedules for each of the subpoenas, as well as drafts of the Department’s December 12, 2017 letter to the U.S. Census Bureau.”
The Commerce Department supervises the Census Bureau.
“We must protect the integrity of the census and stand up for Congress’ authority under the Constitution to conduct meaningful oversight,” Cummings said after Wednesday’s letter.
The dispute comes as the Supreme Court is considering whether to allow the citizenship question on the census form.
Democrats and civil rights groups say the question will reduce minority participation in the census.
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