June 12, 2019

The House Oversight Committee just advanced a vote to hold Attorney General William Barr in civil contempt, and it has nothing to do with the Mueller probe.

The committee has spent months trying to pull testimony from the Justice and Commerce Departments over the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 census and met resistance every step of the way. So on Wednesday, it voted to hold Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in civil contempt for their refusal to hand over documents related to the census decision.

The vote comes just hours after the DOJ sent a letter to Oversight Committee Chair Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) saying President Trump would assert his executive privilege to avoid subpoenas over the question. Cummings delayed the panel's contempt vote for a few hours so its members could read it. Every Democrat on the panel voted to advance the contempt votes, but only Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) switched sides to join them. Amash has so far been the only congressional Republican to call for Trump's impeachment.

Ross first announced his department's decision to add the citizenship question last year, but questions have since risen over whether the DOJ requested the addition, as Ross first claimed, or whether it was politically motivated. Critics of the question say it will discourage undocumented people from taking the census and depress voter representation. Kathryn Krawczyk

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