Home » important » House panel votes to hold Barr, Ross in contempt

House panel votes to hold Barr, Ross in contempt

The House Oversight Committee voted to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress on Wednesday for defying the panel’s subpoenas for documents about the decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.
The vote came hours after President Donald Trump moved to block Congress’ access to the subpoenaed documents by asserting executive privilege.
Trump issued the broad privilege claim at the urging of the Justice Department on Wednesday morning as the committee was beginning contempt proceedings against Barr and Ross for not complying with the panel’s subpoenas, which were issued in April.
“These documents are protected from disclosure by the deliberative process, attorney-client communications, or attorney work product components of executive privilege,” Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd wrote in a letter to House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.).
“Regrettably, you have made these assertions necessary by your insistence upon scheduling a premature contempt vote,” Boyd added.
Boyd’s letter came just minutes before the committee convened to vote on civil and criminal contempt citations for Barr and Ross. Talks between the Justice Department and the committee broke down late Tuesday night after both sides exchanged last-minute offers that would have staved off the contempt votes.
“This begs the question: What is being hidden?” Cummings said. “This does not appear to be an effort to engage in good faith negotiations or accommodations. Instead, it appears to be another example of the administration’s blanket defiance of Congress’ constitutionally mandated responsibilities.”
In a blistering statement after the contempt vote, Ross slammed Democrats for their “shameless, weekly attacks” on the Trump administration.
“The Democrats have continued to attack this administration on dubious grounds, and they aren’t going to let the facts get in the way of their own concocted stories,” Ross said. “By holding a contempt vote, the committee has already demonstrated its scorn for the Constitution, continually refusing to engage in the constitutionally-mandated accommodation process. That is far more serious than the empty stunt the committee performed today.”