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US House Votes to Hold AG Barr, Commerce Sec. Ross in Criminal Contempt

© AP Photo / J. Scott ApplewhiteThe US Capitol building is mirrored in the Reflecting Pool in Washington DC Dec. 28, 2018.
The US Capitol building is mirrored in the Reflecting Pool in Washington DC Dec. 28, 2018. - Sputnik International
The US House of Representatives voted Wednesday evening to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in criminal contempt over their refusal to turn over subpoenaed documents concerning the Trump administration's drive to place a citizenship question on the 2020 census.

The House voted 230-198 to approve the censures of the two Trump Cabinet officials. Democratic leaders have alleged the administration harbors ulterior motives for the citizenship question, saying the goal is not simply to better enforce the Voting Rights Act, but to try and eliminate non-citizens from demographic information, which determines the allocation of both federal funds as well as distribution of voting districts.

“It is bigger than the census. It is about protecting the integrity of the Congress of the United States of America,” Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) said on the House floor Wednesday. “We need to understand how and why the Trump administration tried to add a question based on pretext so that we can consider reforms to ensure that this never happens again.”

However, Ross told Fox Business that his office furnished lawmakers with 14,000 pages of documents related to the census, only excluding about 15 pages the Trump administration has said are protected under the aegis of executive privilege.

The vote now enables a US federal court to compel Ross and Barr to comply with the subpoenas.

The US Supreme Court struck down the citizenship question on June 27, saying the Trump administration's reasoning was "contrived."

The House Oversight Committee voted last month to send the issue to the full chamber for consideration, with Cummings, who chairs the committee, saying the two were "complicit" in a "cover-up" in the Trump administration's disregard for the US Constitution and attempts to disrupt congressional oversight authority.

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