Donald Trump’s administration pushed to add a citizenship question to the 2020 U.S. Census as part of an effort to change the way the House of Representatives 435 seats are designated among the 50 states, therefore changing the Electoral College to perhaps favor him in the 2020 Presidential election, a new set of documents reveals.
The documents, released by the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday, offer the clearest evidence to date that the Trump administration’s public justification for adding the question — “Is this person a citizen of the United States?” — was made up by Trump’s staff.Trump officials had repeatedly signaled their interest in using citizenship data to try to break with more than two centuries of precedent in how congressional seats and Electoral College votes are redistributed among the states. Ultimately, the question did not end up on the 2020 Census forms. In 2019, the Supreme Court blocked the Trump administration’s unprecedented efforts to change the Census after finding its use of the Voting Rights Act as the stated reasoning for the question “seems to have been contrived,” as Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the majority opinion.
Census officials are looking into a text sent out by President Trump's re-election campaign that included a link to a so-called "census" form that was not related to the official 2020 census. Most households cannot fill out a 2020 census form until March 12. pic.twitter.com/2zXJQDAaST
— NPR (@NPR) February 19, 2020
The Trump administration memos and emails were shared by House Oversight following a more than two-year legal fight that began after Trump officials refused to turn them over for a congressional investigation. The Biden administration, which inherited the lawsuit last year, agreed to allow House Oversight members and their staff to review the documents, citing the “exceptional circumstances” of the case.
I think we need to redo the census because the trump admin intentionally f’ed it up. We use census data for many, many things beyond just apportionment of districts. https://t.co/bTJs8NVE4d
— Tina #StandWithUkraine 🇺🇦 (@trcfwtt) July 20, 2022
The documents also suggest that former Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross worked to find “a legitimate use of data” to conceal the administration’s true intent.
3. This handwritten note that James Uthmeier hand-delivered in 2017 to John Gore, who was a Trump appointee at DOJ, shows former Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross helped to orchestrate the plan to use the Voting Rights Act as cover for a citizenship question https://t.co/VY22N2ZGda pic.twitter.com/ExplxW3EXx
— Hansi Lo Wang (he/him) (@hansilowang) July 20, 2022
“Today’s Committee memo pulls back the curtain on this shameful conduct and shows clearly how the Trump administration secretly tried to manipulate the census for political gain while lying to the public and Congress about their goals,” said Oversight Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) in a statement. Maloney recently introduced legislation that seeks to block future political interference at the census bureau.
We thank Chair @RepMaloney and her staff for this investigation and report that confirms the Trump administration’s unprecedented interference with – and politicization of – the decennial census. https://t.co/Zw4AOPFJ0X
— The Leadership Conference (@civilrightsorg) July 20, 2022