Contempt of Congress was a foregone conclusion, but an unexpected show of bipartisanship put an exclamation point on it when Rep. Justin Amash decided to join the Democrats.
June 12, 2019

The House Oversight Committee has voted to hold Attorney General Bill Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress for their failure to turn over documents concerning the citizenship question added to the 2020 census.

Despite the fact that a Supreme Court case is pending, Congress still has the duty to oversee Executive Branch decisions such as this one. With the startling news that Republicans paid for a study by Tom Hofeller to prove that a census question was the only way to get data in order to suppress the Latino vote in Texas and other areas enough to guarantee Republican dominance, some serious oversight is indeed in order.

Instead, Barr and Ross ignored the subpoena. Raised their middle finger to it, actually, forcing the Oversight Committee to consider contempt charges, which they debated Wednesday morning and voted on in the afternoon, despite the White House's desperate attempt to cloak everything in executive privilege.

The surprise came when Rep. Justin Amash, newly freed from the so-called "Freedom Caucus" joined Democrats in voting Barr and Ross in contempt, making the vote a bipartisan victory for truth.

What's next? Bill Barr's Justice Department argues that the executive privilege claim means they can't turn over any documents. But is that really true? Why would Trump be conferring on the census questions? That privilege claim appears to be nothing more than another attempt to impede Congressional oversight.

In the meantime, there is a Supreme Court decision pending, one that could etch that question onto the census regardless of the fact that Republicans lied in their briefs and in their arguments about the motives and reasons for the question, as did the White House.

Justin Amash and the Democrats will be on the right side of history. The rest of the Republican Party of Saint Trump, not so much.

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