The Justice Department on Tuesday said Attorney General William Barr “is now compelled” to advise President Donald Trump to invoke executive privilege, which would prevent House Democrats from obtaining documents pertaining to the administration’s addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 Census.
Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd penned a letter to House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) in which he threatened a blanket assertion of executive privilege if the panel continued with its scheduled vote to hold Attorney General Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress on Wednesday.
“In the face of this threatened contempt vote, the Attorney General is now compelled to request that the president invoke executive privilege with respect to the materials subject to the subpoena to the Attorney General and the subpoena to the secretary of the Department of Commerce,” Boyd wrote in the letter.
“This request is not in itself an assertion of executive privilege. If the Committee decides to proceed in spite of this request, however, the Department will be obliged to advise that the president assert executive privilege with respect to certain of the subpoenaed documents, and to make a protective assertion of executive privilege over the remainder of the documents,” Boyd continued, claiming that the subpoenaed documents are protected by attorney-client privilege.
You can read the rest of the letter below.
Boyd’s letter comes one week after both the Commerce and Justice departments rejected congressional subpoenas for additional documents following the bombshell release of documents from the hard drive of deceased Republican operative Thomas Hofeller.
The documents appeared to indicate that the administration proposed adding the citizenship question in order to disadvantage Democratic voters.
As cries of foul-play grew louder after the Hofeller document reveal, lawyers for the Department of Justice responded last week, issuing a strong rebuke of the claims that the citizenship question was added to intentionally benefit Republicans. The DOJ called the allegations “meritless” and accused Democrats of concocting an eleventh hour “conspiracy theory.”
“There is no smoking gun here; only smoke and mirrors,” they wrote to U.S. District Judge Jesse M. Furman. “Plaintiffs apparently hope that by filing their eleventh-hour motion they might (improperly) derail the Supreme Court’s resolution of this case.”
It was Furman who blocked the addition of the citizenship question in the first place, calling the move “arbitrary and capricious.”
The Supreme Court is scheduled to rule by month’s end on the constitutionality of the decision to add a citizenship question to the census.
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[image via Chip Somodevilla_Getty Images]
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