House Dems get ready to hit William Barr with contempt vote

Pelosi, Barr and Nadler

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) indicated on Monday that the House will vote “soon” on a contempt resolution for Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross It is alleged that they both failed to comply with congressional subpoenas for documents on the proposed addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

“Before the break, the Oversight Committee voted on a bipartisan basis to hold the Attorney General and the Secretary of Commerce in contempt of Congress for defying the Committee’s bipartisan subpoenas for documents that would shed light on the real reason the administration added a citizenship question,” Pelosi wrote in a letter to other House Democrats. “We will be moving forward in the whole House soon.”

Speaker Pelosi did not provide details on when that vote will be held, or what kind of contempt resolution lawmakers might be voting on.

Pelosi also criticized the Trump administration on Monday over the citizenship question, calling it an attempt to “make America white again.”

The House Oversight and Reform Committee voted last month to hold the administration officials in contempt for not handing over the documents on efforts by officials to add the question to the 2020 census.

The resolution promoted by the committee would allow for lawmakers to refer the matter to the Department of Justice (DOJ) for potential prosecution. They could also file a lawsuit seeing enforcement of the congressional subpoenas. But this outcome is highly unlikely because it is doubtful that federal prosecutors would take up the case, as they would be pursuing charges against their own administration.

Both the Justice and Commerce Departments that they were working to comply with the document requests, and that they had already handed over thousands of pages to lawmakers. Republicans have portrayed the contempt resolution as an attempt to influence the Supreme Court decision on the citizenship question.

But Oversight and Reform Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said most of the documents were already publicly available, heavily redacted or not in line with what the subpoenas had requested.

And it was just hours before the contempt vote that two federal agencies informed lawmakers that Trump had asserted executive privilege over the subpoenaed documents.

The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 last month to block the citizenship question from appearing on the census, finding that the administration’s argument for the question’s addition — enforcing the Voting Rights Act — didn’t match up with the evidence in the case. The High Court did leave the door open for the administration to provide another line of reasoning for the question’s inclusion.

That measure also empowered Democratic committee chairs with new legal authorities to enforce their subpoenas, as Trump has vowed to not comply with any subpoenas issued by Democrats investigating him or his administration.

Credit: The Hill