New Witness Testimony Debunks Democrats’ Conspiracy Theories on Census Citizenship Question

Full Committee on Oversight and Reform
Full Committee on Oversight and Reform
Published: Jun 18, 2019

House Oversight Republicans Release Minority Views on Attorney General Barr and Secretary Ross Contempt Citation
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Jim Jordan (R-OH), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform,  released minority views that will accompany the Committee report recommending to hold Attorney General William P. Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur L. Ross, Jr., be held in contempt of Congress.

The minority views, submitted yesterday, provide additional information and context to address the shortcomings and inaccuracies of the contempt report as adopted by the Committee. The minority views highlight new witness testimony that directly rebuts Democrat conspiracy theories about the origins and purpose of the citizenship question. Several key witnesses testified that they had no interactions with the White House or a now-deceased political consultant, Thomas Hofeller, about the reinstitution of the citizenship question.

Read the full minority views here. Read the incorporated staff reports here and here.

Key points from the minority views:
    • Chairman Cummings and the Committee’s investigation is active and ongoing. The Committee’s action in approving the contempt citation was premature as fact-finding is active and ongoing. The Committee has not yet exhausted all avenues to obtain requested information.
    • The Supreme Court will decide the merits of the citizenship question soon. The Committee’s contempt citation was an unnecessary act of political theater. The Supreme Court will issue its decision in Department of Commerce v. New York in a matter of weeks, settling any controversy around the reinstitution of the citizenship question on the 2020 Census.
    • The Democrats baselessly imply a conspiracy to further their use of the Census for partisan political gain. The Committee’s action in approving the contempt citation stems from a baseless assumption: that Secretary Ross has not been truthful in articulating his reasons for reinstituting a citizenship question on the 2020 Census. Although Secretary Ross explained his reasons in detail in a memorandum and seven hours of public testimony, Chairman Cummings and the Committee continues to search for evidence to support a nefarious plot carried out by shadowy and powerful political operatives.
    • The contempt citation improperly and baselessly implies a nefarious White House connection to the decision to reinstitute a citizenship question. The contempt citation suggests the evidence of a vast Republican conspiracy to reinstate the citizenship question, one that was directed from the highest levels of the White House. Chairman Cummings has said repeatedly that the White House has orchestrated a “cover up” from the very “top.” The record before the Committee does not support these charges.
    • The contempt citation fails to note the protections in federal law on the unauthorized use of census data. The Committee has heard repeated testimony reinforcing the message that information obtained from the citizenship question cannot and will not be used for law enforcement proceedings.
    • The Citizenship Question is not new to the Census. Every decennial census from 1820 to 1950 asked about citizenship. From 1970 to 2000, the Census Bureau mailed a “long-form census” that asked a citizenship question. Since 2005, the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey has solicited citizenship information from a segment of the population each year.
    • The contempt citation fails to note that state and federal entities regularly solicit citizenship information for a variety of reasons. In addition to the Census Bureau, state and federal entities solicit and collect citizenship data for a variety of reasons, including employment and licensure. The United Nations actually recommends soliciting citizenship information on a population census.
    • The contempt citation makes unfounded and conclusory assertions about Executive Privilege. The contempt citation, as amended during the business meeting, makes several unfounded legal conclusions about the sufficiency of the President’s protective assertion of executive privilege. This protective assertion is only a result of Chairman Cummings’s rush to contempt.
    • Chairman Cummings has changed his view on contempt under the Trump Administration. Chairman Cummings has held Trump Administration officials in contempt of Congress after only two months, while the Committee continues to collect evidence and hold voluntary transcribed interviews, and the Trump Administration continues to cooperate with the Committee’s investigation. While Chairman Cummings believed in 2012 that then-Attorney General Holder was not hiding a “damn thing” by withholding documents, the Chairman believes the Trump Administration’s similar actions “beg[] the question−what is he hiding?”
    • Chairman Cummings broke committee rules when he did not distribute an agenda for the Committee’s consideration of the citation within the period required. In the Majority’s haste to manufacture a controversy around the citizenship question, the Committee violated its rules by failing to distribute the memorandum “at least three calendar days . . . before” the meeting. The Chairman’s after-the-fact explanations do not cure this procedural defect.