Bill Barr, Wilbur Ross
The Democrat-controlled House voted to hold Attorney General Bill Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in criminal contempt of Congress for obstructing an investigation into the citizenship census question.
“I do not take this decision lightly,” Oversight chairman Elijah Cummings said on the House floor before the vote. “Holding any secretary in criminal contempt of Congress is a serious and sober matter, one that I have done everything in my power to avoid. But in the case of the Attorney General and the secretary, Secretary Ross, they blatantly obstructed our ability to do congressional oversight into the real reason Secretary Ross was trying for the first time in 70 years, in 70 years to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.”
The contempt resolution passed in a 230-198 vote on party line.
Four Democrats and all Republicans voted against the resolution.
— CSPAN (@cspan) July 17, 2019
Attorney General Bill Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross wrote House Speaker Nancy Pelosi earlier Wednesday urging her to cancel an imminent vote to hold them in contempt of Congress.
The Democrat-led House Oversight Committee previously issued Barr and Ross a subpoena for documents related to the citizenship question on the 2020 census.
Both Barr and Ross defied the congressional subpoena, however they turned over thousands of documents to the Committee and the Democrats still moved to hold them in contempt.
President Trump backed down from adding the citizenship question to the census, and Barr and Ross cooperated with the Committee.
Wilbur Ross said in a statement Wednesday that the House Democrats don’t even want a productive relationship with the Trump administration.
“Today’s PR stunt further demonstrates their unending quest to generate headlines instead of operating in good faith with our Department,” Ross said. “Preferring to play political games rather than help lead the country, they have made every attempt to ascribe evil motivations to everyday functions of government.”
In another statement, DOJ spox Kerri Kupec called the vote “a new low for Speaker Pelosi’s House of Representatives.”
“The Department of Justice has worked for months to supply thousands of documents to accommodate Congress’s requests,” Kupec said. “Additionally, many documents at issue with this particular vote have been held privileged by a federal court. …This vote is nothing more than a political stunt.”
The Democrats previously held Bill Barr in contempt for not violating federal law and now they just voted to hold him in contempt for cooperating with the House Oversight Committee.
The contempt resolution will be sent to the US Attorney’s office in DC however it is highly unlikely that any further action will be taken since Bill Barr oversees the office.