- The Washington Times - Monday, June 3, 2019

The House Oversight Committee announced Monday it will hold a vote to recommend holding Attorney General William P. Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress, saying they’ve refused to turn over documents about adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

Oversight Chairman Elijah E. Cummings informed the two Cabinet secretaries of the move in letters, accusing them of being “part of a pattern” of obstruction by Trump officials.

“This cover-up is being directed from the top,” Mr. Cummings said.

He said he would delay the contempt vote in his committee if the secretaries produce the documents he’s subpoenaed by Thursday.

The vote, should it take place, would be the second time committees have recommended contempt proceedings against Mr. Barr. The Judiciary Committee voted on partisan lines last month to make a similar recommendation.

House Democratic leaders have yet to schedule action for the whole chamber, with Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying she wants to wait for a critical mass of complaints.

Mr. Cummings‘ new demand comes as civil liberties groups go to court this week to ask a judge to punish the Trump administration for lying.

The American Civil Liberties Union says it uncovered evidence that a GOP strategist helped orchestrate the addition of the citizenship question, after conducting research that suggested it would help maximize Republican votes at the expense of minorities and Democrats.

Mr. Cummings cited that new information in his letters to the two Cabinet officials, saying it heightens the urgency of his own investigation.

His committee in April issued a subpoena demanding answers from John Gore, a senior Justice Department official at the center of the decision to add the citizenship question to the 2020 census.

Mr. Gore had previously talked to the committee but, under instructions from government lawyers, had rebuffed a number of questions. It’s those questions Mr. Cummings said he wants to get answers to.

He said the vote he’s planning would envision “civil enforcement action.” That stops short of the call by some lawmakers for Congress to flex its inherent contempt powers to arrest or fine recalcitrant officials.

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