House holds Barr, Ross in criminal contempt over census documents

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The U.S. House of Representatives voted on Wednesday to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in criminal contempt for defying congressional subpoenas related to the U.S. census.

The measure, which passed 230-198, was a response to the cabinet members’ failure to produce documents requested by House Democrats as part of an investigation into whether the Trump administration attempted to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census that would discriminate against racial minorities.

Four Democrats voted against the measure, while no Republicans supported it. Justin Amash, an independent congressman from Michigan who recently left the Republican Party, voted in favor of the resolution.

The criminal contempt vote against the two Trump cabinet members is likely to be little more than symbolic since the charges would be referred to Barr’s Justice Department.

Still, the maneuver intensified a Democratic assault on President Donald Trump’s stonewalling of congressional probes.

Earlier on Wednesday, Barr and Ross urged House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to delay the vote, saying she should “allow the constitutionally mandated accommodation process to continue.”

“House Democrats never sought to have a productive relationship with the Trump administration, and today’s PR stunt further demonstrates their unending quest to generate headlines instead of operating in good faith with our department,” Ross said in a statement.

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