House panel to vote Wednesday on whether
two Trump officials are in contempt of Congress
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[June 11, 2019]
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S.
House of Representatives Oversight Committee plans to vote on Wednesday
on whether to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary
Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress for stonewalling a probe into an
alleged scheme to politicize the 2020 U.S. Census.
"Both Secretary Ross and Attorney General Barr are refusing to comply
with duly authorized subpoenas from Congress," the committee's chairman,
Democratic Representative Elijah Cummings, said on Monday in a statement
announcing the vote.
"Because they are in contempt of Congress, on Wednesday, the Committee
will vote to move forward to enforce our bipartisan subpoenas," he said.
In a statement, Ross called the planned vote an "empty stunt" and said
he had cooperated with the committee, providing 14,000 pages of
documents and testifying for nearly seven hours.
If the committee finds them in contempt, a vote could then take place in
the full, Democratic-led House. If the full House votes in favor of
contempt, it could take Ross and Barr to court to seek compliance.
The committee is investigating a plan by President Donald Trump's
administration to add a question on citizenship to next year's U.S.
Critics believe including the question will scare immigrants and Latinos
into abstaining from the survey, which is taken every 10 years. That
could disproportionately undercount Democratic-leaning states, they
[to top of second column]
U.S. Attorney General William Barr speaks at the FBI National
Academy Graduation Ceremony in Quantico, Virginia, U.S., June 7,
2019 REUTERS/Tom Brenner
Ross has said the citizenship question would help enforce the Voting
Rights Act, which requires a tally of citizens of voting age to
protect minorities against discrimination.
The panel's Democrats said they scheduled the contempt vote after
both Ross and Barr did not produce documents about the issue in
response to a bipartisan subpoena the panel issued more than two
The committee said Ross testified that he added the citizenship
question "solely" at the request of the Justice Department.
The panel said documents showed, however, that Ross "began a secret
campaign" to add the question to the census questionnaire shortly
after taking office and months before being asked to do so by the
The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for
comment on the committee's move to schedule a contempt vote.
(Reporting by Eric Beech; Editing by Rosalba O'Brien and Peter
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