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story.lead_photo.caption House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah E. Cummings, D-Md., joined at left by Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, the ranking member, holds debate on whether to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt for failing to turn over subpoenaed documents related to the Trump administration's decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, June 12, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has asserted executive privilege over documents that were subpoenaed by Congress related to the Trump administration's decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, the Justice Department said Wednesday.

The claim comes as the House Oversight Committee considers whether to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt for failing to turn over the subpoenaed documents.

In a letter to the committee's chairman, Rep. Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the Justice Department asserted that the Trump administration has "engaged in good-faith efforts" to satisfy the committee's oversight needs and said the planned contempt vote was premature.

Democrats fear the question will reduce census participation in immigrant-heavy communities. They say they want specific documents to determine why Ross added the citizenship question to the 2020 census and contend the Trump administration has declined to provide them despite repeated requests.

The administration has turned over more than 17,000 of pages of documents and Ross testified for nearly seven hours . The Justice Department has said two senior officials also sat for interviews with committee staff members and it was working to produce tens of thousands of additional pages of relevant documents.

Cummings disputed the Justice Department's account and said most of the documents turned over to the committee had already been made public.

The administration's refusal to turn over requested documents "does not appear to be an effort to engage in good faith efforts to comply" with congressional oversight, Cummings said. "Instead it appears to be part of a policy of defiance of congressional authority."

Trump has vowed to "fight all the subpoenas" issued by Congress and has vowed to refuse to work on legislative priorities, such as infrastructure, until Congress halts investigations of his administration.

"The census is critical to our democracy and it is critical to every single one of our constituents," Cummings said.

Cummings postponed a planned vote Wednesday morning to allow lawmakers time to read the Justice Department letters.

Ross told the committee the decision in March 2018 to add the question was based on a Justice Department request to help it enforce the Voting Rights Act.

Cummings disputed that, citing documents unearthed last week suggesting that the real reason the administration sought to add the citizenship question was to help officials gerrymander legislative districts in overtly partisan and racist ways.

The Supreme Court is considering the citizenship question in a ruling expected by the end of the month.

Some of the documents the committee is seeking are protected by attorney-client privileges and other confidential processes, Boyd said, adding that the president has made a "protective assertion" of executive privilege so the administration can fully review all of the documents.

"The president, the Department of Justice, has every right to do that," White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said on MSNBC. "They're asking for documents that are privileged and I would hope that they can continue to negotiate and speak about what is appropriate and what is not, but the world is watching. This country sees that they'd rather continue to investigate than legislate."

Democrats have accused the Trump administration of failing to comply with subpoenas in an effort to stonewall Congress' oversight power.

The House Judiciary Committee voted last month to hold Barr in contempt of Congress after the department didn't immediately comply with a subpoena to turn over an unredacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller's report on the Russia probe and underlying investigative documents.

Republicans have criticized such hearings as a waste of time and have called for Democrats to move on.

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Archived Comments

  • RBear
    June 12, 2019 at 12:06 p.m.

    They are definitely hiding something as evidenced by waiting until the 11th hour to assert executive privilege when the subpoena's been out there for 2 months. Trump continues to abuse powers the founders and courts have granted to the president to use in emergency situations, opting instead to overextend his reach as president for no rational reason at all.

  • Illinoisroy
    June 12, 2019 at 12:22 p.m.

    Old bone spurs doesn't respect the concept of co-equal branches of government or transparency. The man is incompetent and a con man but since Kellyanne says its ok then I probably don't have the intellect to understand his actions.

  • hah406
    June 12, 2019 at 12:24 p.m.

    The administration knows that if they have to show the documents, it will show that the citizenship question was motivated by racial and ethnic animus and not by the voting rights act. The GOP fears the changing demographics of the country, and will do anything to try to keep old white men in charge.

  • abb
    June 12, 2019 at 1:12 p.m.

    ---keeping old white men in office-----hahahahahahaha420

    You mean old rich, white commies like Bernie, Biden, Blasio, Chickenchoker...etc?

  • UoABarefootPhdFICYMCA
    June 12, 2019 at 1:58 p.m.

    My president and his sexist 1st day women first government first corpse-rations first
    kanye/working man,boy child last because people wont shut the door on those pooor pooor taco bell and xbox cara-vans.
    Yes. I'll be happy to take a citizenship test or w/e else they want that I can take part of. Please hire people and ICE to go door to door like the Romans did (i am not kidding you) and find out who is us and who is not us.
    please
    please
    please
    i read somewhere you only had one job mr. government/formerly the artist known as corporation of u.s.a..... one job, formerly known as the "free" colonies, you only had one job...

  • UoABarefootPhdFICYMCA
    June 12, 2019 at 2:01 p.m.

    people who talk about "evil" white people
    {HAH406} and he's going to lecture EVERYONE about bigotry.

  • hah406
    June 12, 2019 at 2:12 p.m.

    Didn't say evil UofA, I said old white men. And ABB, I mean all of them, don't care which party. Bernie, Biden, Graham, McConnell. All of them.

  • mozarky2
    June 12, 2019 at 2:38 p.m.

    Sigh...I guess white men are the only ethnic group that it's legal to discriminate against.

  • JakeTidmore
    June 12, 2019 at 2:49 p.m.

    Donald Trump is a crook, a liar, and unfit for office. Crooked Donald, Lying Donald, Insulting Donald, and Constitutionally-challenged Donald is far and above the worst president to ever sit in the Oval Office. He denies science, can't keep his stories straight, belittles veterans and our allies, hurts the American taxpayer with his unpopular and unwise tariff actions/threats, and he does not see the difference between facts and his fantasies.
    --
    Those who defend him are ready to sell their country down the river for his sake. They are not patriots and do NOT deserve to call themselves such. They are traitors to this great nation and will follow this tyrant on his path to destruction - his own, his party's, and the nation's. A liar and a cheat now leads the GOP - not out of the wilderness but into the swamp.
    The GOP has lost its heart, its soul, and especially its mind. The Devil Incarnate now rules them.
    **
    In 2020 - It's time to take out the poisonous trash. DUMP TRUMP. Save the Constitution, save the people, save the environment, save future generations - Save America.
    Sic semper tyrannis!!

  • Packman
    June 12, 2019 at 3:23 p.m.

    Whatever happened to “impeach that mother***ker”? Dems played their base for the fools they are ahead of the mid-terms and now the mouthy chickensh*t blowhards are backtracking. Dems are chickensh*ts. Every. Damn. One. Of. Them.
    .
    Hey hah - What do you have against old white men? Your bigotry is profound, hah. Do better.
    .
    Folks, Tidmore has finally lost it. It’ll take a case of paper towels to wipe the spittle from his keyboard after his latest tidbit of insanity. Tidmore has been mentally broken by Trump supporters. And we keep having the last laugh.

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