Ross testified that the Department of Justice requested adding the citizenship question to the census form in late 2017 for the purpose of enforcing federal voting rights law, but evidence suggested that the Commerce Department asked for and played a part in drafting the Department of Justice request, the inspector general probe found.
It is a federal crime to make false statements before Congress. The results of the inspector general’s investigation were presented to the Justice Department during Trump’s administration, but department attorneys declined prosecution in January 2020.
The Supreme Court eventually blocked adding the query ahead of the 2020 census, but critics say that by pursuing the citizenship question, the Trump administration sought to suppress participation by noncitizens and minorities in the nation’s once-a-decade head count.
According to critics, the citizenship question was inspired by the late Republican redistricting expert Tom Hofeller, who had previously written that using citizen voting-age population instead of the total population for the purpose of redrawing of congressional and legislative districts could be advantageous to Republicans and non-Hispanic white people.
A spokeswoman for the Democratic-led House Committee on Oversight and Reform said in a statement Tuesday that the decision to decline prosecution by Department of Justice attorneys in Trump’s administration raised questions “about whether there was inappropriate political interference in the declination decision.”
“This is especially true because senior officials in the Justice Department under the previous Administration were implicated in the illegal effort to add the citizenship question to the 2020 Census,” said Emma Dulaney, the spokeswoman.
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