Accusing the Trump Administration of intentionally withholding documents and information about the failed effort by President Donald Trump to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census, the House on Wednesday voted along party lines to find the Attorney General and Secretary of Commerce in Contempt of Congress.
"Neither of the Departments have provided the documents we have asked for," said Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), as the House resolution targeted both Attorney General William Barr, and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross.
"I even asked Secretary Ross to meet with me personally," Cummings said on the House floor. "He refused."
It was the second time Barr had been held in contempt by the current Congress; the first was a civil contempt citation passed by the full House for ignoring a subpoena for his testimony about the Russia investigation and the Mueller Report.
Democrats said it was nothing but a cover-up by the White House.
This Administration is engaging in a deliberate and widespread cover-up. Today the House will hold @SecretaryRoss and #AGBarr in criminal contempt of Congress for defying subpoenas. Congressional subpoenas are not optional. #CultureOfCorruption #RuleOfLaw— Steve Cohen (@RepCohen) July 17, 2019
We know that AG Barr & @SecretaryRoss have lied to Congress about the #2020Census. Now, they are ignoring subpoenas to continue to cover up their lies. We MUST vote YES on contempt.— Carolyn B. Maloney (@RepMaloney) July 17, 2019
ICYMI: Here are the documents proving the Administration lied: https://t.co/d1IDlFWY0G pic.twitter.com/EnOUnqyqLC
The House had no choice but to vote to hold Attorney General Barr and Secretary Ross in contempt for ignoring the law and refusing to provide the requested documents. Congress’ job is oversight and the American people deserve to know the truth.— Jim Cooper (@repjimcooper) July 17, 2019
Just before the vote, Barr and Ross sent a letter to Democrats asking that the contempt vote be delayed, as Republicans argued that the Trump Administration has been cooperating with requests for documents - something Democrats say just isn't true.
"It is unfortunate that the House has scheduled a vote to hold two sitting members of the President's Cabinet in contempt of Congress given the clear record of cooperation," Barr and Ross wrote, as they said 'any contempt vote is, at best, premature.'
"This is all about a show," said Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), as Republicans rallied around a message that Democrats were pursuing political attacks on the President, while ignoring major issues on Capitol Hill.
"Don't play politics with contempt," said Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC). "We're better than that."
Pelosi Democrats hate President Trump so much that they can’t get anything done. From their resolution yesterday to impeachment today, the House is at a standstill. We have got to move on from these political stunts and do the work the American people sent us here to do.— Markwayne Mullin (@RepMullin) July 17, 2019
The facts simply don't support holding Attorney General Barr and Secretary Ross in contempt. These federal agencies are not stonewalling investigations, and this vote is just not warranted.— Rep. Jody Hice (@CongressmanHice) July 17, 2019
More politics at play in the People's house. cc: @OversightDems pic.twitter.com/tPPwxOsMYR
Democrats countered that the courts have already shown that the Trump Administration didn't tell the truth about why the citizenship question was being pursued - as Democrats argued that the feds had held back information to Congress about the Census citizenship question.
"Wilbur Ross lied. William Barr lied," said Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY).
In a defiant statement sent out just after the vote, the White House denounced the House action.
“Today’s vote by Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats to hold Attorney General Barr and Secretary Ross in contempt is ridiculous and yet another lawless attempt to harass the President and his Administration,” the statement read.