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Tags: DOJ | WilburRoss | Census

DOJ Won't Prosecute Ross After Damning IG Report on His Testimony to Congress

DOJ Won't Prosecute Ross After Damning IG Report on His Testimony to Congress
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on September 21, 2020, at the US State Department in Washington,DC.  (Patrick Semansky/AFP via Getty Images)

By    |   Monday, 19 July 2021 03:01 PM

The Biden administration reportedly won’t prosecute former Trump administration officials, including former Commerce Department Secretary Wilbur Ross, after an inspector general found they provided false testimony about a proposed citizenship question to be added to the 2020 census. 

Government Executive reported Commerce IG investigators said in a letter released Friday to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., that Ross and other officials played a “substantive role” in proposing the addition of the citizenship question. The report itself wasn't made public, the news outlet reported.

Critics had complained the proposed question would essentially keep non-citizens from participating in the count at all; it was eventually struck down by the Supreme Court. 

The IG said it presented its findings to the public integrity section of the Department of Justice's criminal division, but the department declined to pursue prosecution, the news outlet reported.

Under the Trump administration, the DOJ also declined to prosecute Ross and others after Democrats voted to hold them in contempt for refusing to turn over documents related to the citizenship question decision making, Government Executive reported. 

Ross twice told Congress the addition of the citizenship question was based solely on a request from the Department of Justice, but the IG found Ross “misrepresented the full rationale” behind the decision.

However, publicly disclosed emails showed the role Ross, the White House and other Commerce officials played a part well before the DOJ became involved, Government Executive reported. And the Supreme Court noted the political influence when ordering the removal of the question. 

“Evidence shows there were significant communications related to the citizenship question among the then-Secretary, his staff, and other government officials between March 2017 and September 2017, which was well before the DOJ request memorandum,” Commerce Department Inspector General Peggy Gustafson wrote. “Evidence also suggests the department requested and played a part in drafting the DOJ memorandum.”

On Monday, Maloney vowed to continue investigating the Trump administration's efforts on the citizenship question, which she said aimed "to skew the census for political gain," The Hill reported.

“The independent Inspector General has confirmed what the Oversight Committee found in our extensive investigation: that Secretary Ross misled Congress and the American people about the true motivations behind the Trump Administration’s illegal efforts to add a citizenship question to the census," she said in a statement, The Hill reported.

"Lying to Congress is unacceptable, and the IG did the right thing by referring Secretary Ross’s conduct to the Justice Department."

Ross insisted in 2018 and 2019 the decision to add the citizenship question was solely based on a DOJ request for data to inform its efforts to enforce the Voting Rights Act, The Hill noted.

The IG investigation was launched on June 27, 2019 —  the same day the Supreme Court blocked the Trump administration from moving forward with its plans to add a citizenship question. 

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Politics
The Biden administration reportedly won't prosecute former Trump administration officials, including former Commerce Department Secretary Wilbur Ross...
DOJ, WilburRoss, Census
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2021-01-19
Monday, 19 July 2021 03:01 PM
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