- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 4, 2019

President Trump said Thursday he told the Justice and Commerce departments to work through the federal Independence Day holiday to try to find a way to shoehorn the citizenship question back into the census.

Department lawyers are racing a Friday deadline for telling the courts what they plan to do after a crazy couple of days of Trump-inspired reversals.

“So important for our Country that the very simple and basic ‘Are you a Citizen of the United States?’ question be allowed to be asked in the 2020 Census,” the president said on Twitter.

He added: “Department of Commerce and the Department of Justice are working very hard on this, even on the 4th of July!”

It was Mr. Trump’s twitter account that upended the situation on Wednesday, a day after the lawyers had told federal district courts that the question had been dropped.

The president insisted that was “fake,” sending the government lawyers scrambling to explain to judges what was going on.

One Justice Department lawyer told a judge in Maryland that he didn’t think anything had changed, and the Census Bureau was still printing the 2020 questionnaire without the citizenship question.

Another department lawyer, though, said they were still exploring Mr. Trump’s deep desire to ask the question.

The Supreme Court last week ruled that while a citizenship question is legal, and has been asked before, this administration bungled the effort to add it back in for next year’s count.

The justices said the administration could try again — though based on the government’s own schedule, it had to finalize the questionnaire by last weekend. Faced with that deadline, the Commerce Department confirmed Tuesday it would not ask the question.

Mr. Trump, who has staked an extreme amount of political capital on the issue, then took to Twitter to say that wasn’t true, sending the lawyers scrambling.

It’s not clear what options his team is pondering. It assured the court it had to make a final decision on questions by June 30 if the census was to take place on time.

Mr. Trump had raised the possibility of delaying the count, but that would spark its own series of legal battles.

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