President Trump asserted executive privilege over documents related to the 2020 census Wednesday morning. The move came as Democrats on Capitol Hill prepared to vote Attorney General Bill Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt for what they claim is a failure to respond to subpoenas about the administration's decision to put a question about citizenship status on the upcoming survey.
The Department of Justice has provided 17,000 documents and multiple officials for testimony in response to their inquiries.
"By proceeding with today's vote, you have abandoned the accommodation process with respect to your requests and subpoenas for documents concerning the Secretary's decision to include a citizenship question on the 2020 census. The Executive Branch has engaged in food-faith efforts to satisfy the legislative needs of the Committee. Moreover, until the Committee's abrupt decision to seek a contempt resolution, the Department was prepared to provide a significant number of additional documents responsive to the Committee's April 2, 2019 subpoena. Unfortunately, rather than allowing the Department to complete its document production, you have chosen to go forward with an unnecessary and premature contempt vote," Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd wrote in a letter to Chairman Elijah Cummings Wednesday morning.
"Accordingly, this letter is to advise you that the President has asserted executive privilege over certain subpoenaed documents identified by the Committee in its June 3, 2019 letters to the Attorney General and the Secretary," Boyd continued.
The citizenship question has been argued at the Supreme Court. The Justices will release an opinion and ruling on the case by the end of June.
According to court watchers who were in the room during oral arguments or following closely, the case is likely to go in favor of the administration.
"Key U.S. Supreme Court justices seemed inclined to let the Trump administration add a question about citizenship to the 2020 census in a clash that will shape the allocation of congressional seats and federal dollars," Bloomberg reported in April.
In Supreme Court arguments on adding a citizenship question to the census, all signs pointed to the usual 5-4 split, meaning that the court’s conservative majority is poised to allow the question.— Adam Liptak (@adamliptak) April 23, 2019
Just got out of census arguments. I think SCOTUS will uphold the Trump administration’s addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 census by a 5–4 vote.— Mark Joseph Stern (@mjs_DC) April 23, 2019
This is not the first time the citizenship question has been included in the census.
This post has been updated with additional information.