President Donald Trump has exercised his executive privilege to protect census documents that were requested by House Democrats from Attorney General William Barr.
Barr previously refused to hand over the documents, saying he didn’t believe that the House Oversight and Reform Committee had a right to review them, and the committee scheduled a vote to hold the attorney general in contempt of court.
However, the White House’s decision to cover the documents in executive privilege could foil the vote.
“The president has asserted executive privilege over certain subpoenaed documents,” Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd wrote to Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings Wednesday morning according to The DailyMail.
“These documents are protected from disclosure by the deliberative process, attorney-client communication, or attorney work product components of executive privilege,” he noted.
Boyd also noted that the president “made a protective assertion of executive privilege over the remainder of the subpoenaed documents.”
The vote, which was initially scheduled for Wednesday morning and included both Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, has since been postponed until Wednesday afternoon so that lawmakers can consider the new changes.
“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,” Boyd wrote.
Boyd also said that the department “was prepared to provide a significant number of additional documents” following receipt of a subpoena but was interrupted because of the panel’s “abrupt decision to seek a contempt resolution.”
While the House was taken over by a Democratic majority following the November 2018 election, Cummings noted on Wednesday that the committee had been seeking the documents for “more than a year,” according to the DailyMail.
“We offered that if they began producing one or two categories in the key documents of our subpoenas we would be willing to consider postponing the vote, but both departments declined our offer which is why we are proceeding to today’s vote,” he said.
“The census is critical to our democracy,” Cummings declared, adding it’s Congress’ job to “make sure the census is working as it is meant to work.”
“We must protect the integrity of the census,” Cummings said.