The House Oversight Committee voted Wednesday to recommend the full House hold Attorney General Bill Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress, after President Donald Trump asserted executive privilege over materials related to the committee’s census investigation.
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The panel adopted the contempt resolution on a mostly party line vote of 24-15 on Wednesday afternoon, with Republican Rep. Justin Amash notably joining all Democrats in voting for the resolution while all other Republicans voted against.
The privilege assertion marks the latest escalation in the battle between the Trump Administration and House Democrats investigating Ross’ move to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, which Democrats claim was intended to intimidate immigrants and minorities, and depress the party’s representation across the country.
“The Committee’s attempt to define the Department of Justice’s good-faith cooperation as ‘contempt’ defies logic. Today’s action by Chairman Cummings and his Committee undermines Congress’s credibility with the American people. The Department of Justice has tirelessly worked for months to accommodate the Committee’s requests for information, including producing over 17,000 pages of documents and making senior Department officials available for questioning,” Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said in a statement.
House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings has accused both the DOJ and Commerce Department of stonewalling his investigation by withholding documents and preventing witnesses requested by the committee from testifying on the issue.
“For months, the Trump Administration has claimed that the decision to add the citizenship question was made at the Department level rather than at the White Hou