- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 26, 2019

House Democrats filed a lawsuit Tuesday asking a federal judge to order the Justice and Commerce departments to turn over documents from President Trump’s aborted effort to ask about citizenship during the 2020 count.

The Oversight and Reform Committee has been investigating the move but has run into a roadblock with Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross refusing to divulge unredacted copies of some documents under the rules Democrats have laid out.

Democrats believe the documents would show nefarious reasons behind the attempt to add the question.

“Despite the committee’s extensive efforts at accommodations, Secretary Ross and Attorney General Barr have refused to provide these critical documents and communications,” the House said in the lawsuit.

The new lawsuit comes a day after a federal judge ruled in another case that the White House could not claim “immunity” to bar former top White House lawyer Donald McGahn from testifying in response to a congressional subpoena.

The Oversight Committee, in the new lawsuit, says Mr. Barr and Mr. Ross are hiding behind the same immunity defense.

“I am filing this enforcement action today because the Trump administration’s brazen obstruction of Congress must not stand,” said Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, the New York Democrat who became chairwoman of the oversight panel following the death of Rep. Elijah Cummings, who spearheaded the census probe.

The administration announced last year it wanted the citizenship question included, but a series of lower courts ruled it cut too many corners.

The Supreme Court in June agreed, ruling that asking the question is not illegal, but the administration needed to give better reasons for including it.

A Commerce Department spokeswoman said the Democrats’ lawsuit lacks merit and said Commerce has cooperated in good faith with the Oversight Committee.

The department has made more than 2,000 documents available to the committee since January and submitted hundreds of pages of additional documents since the Supreme Court’s decision, the spokeswoman said. Current and former officials participated in transcribed interviews, and Mr. Ross testified before the panel for seven hours, she said.

The census is set to begin in Alaska in January and across the country in April 2020.

⦁ This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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