Barr and Ross Must Produce Census Documents by Tomorrow to Avoid Contempt
Washington, DC (June 5, 2019)—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, announced that the Committee plans to move forward next week with a vote to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress if they do not produce unredacted copies of key documents required by bipartisan subpoenas issued more than two months ago relating to the Trump Administration’s decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. The documents are due by close of business on Thursday.
In addition, late last night, the Commerce Department—under threat of subpoena—finally relented to demands to schedule transcribed interviews for three current and former Department officials who were involved with adding the citizenship question, avoiding a public vote on the subpoenas this morning. These requests had been outstanding for months.
“Our Committee has a constitutional responsibility to oversee the Census, and we will not relinquish this responsibility because of a coordinated effort to obstruct our investigation by the Trump Administration,” Cummings said. “We have been extremely patient in waiting for these documents, which were subpoenaed more than two months ago on a bipartisan basis. If they are not produced by tomorrow, we will be forced to move forward with holding Attorney General Barr and Secretary Ross in contempt of Congress. These documents are critical to our oversight efforts, and we plan to use them in our interviews of top Administration officials in the coming weeks.”
On Monday, the Committee sent letters notifying Barr and Ross that it would vote to hold them in contempt of Congress if they do not produce key documents required by the Committee’s bipartisan subpoenas issued on April 2, 2019. Some of these high-priority documents include:
In addition to demanding these documents, Cummings circulated a subpoena resolution yesterday that would have compelled testimony from three current and former Department of Commerce officials who have refused for months to come in for voluntary interviews: former Senior Advisor and Counsel to the Secretary James Uthmeier, General Counsel Peter Davidson, and Deputy Chief of Staff and Director of Policy Earl Comstock.
The Committee first requested transcribed interviews with these three officials on March 20, 2019, but the Department refused to make them available. On May 7, 2019, the Committee sent request letters directly to the witnesses, but the Department still did not comply.
Late last night, Commerce officials finally agreed to schedule voluntary interviews with all three current and former officials, and the Committee postponed its subpoena vote accordingly.