The Ministry of Justice (DOJ) will not charge the former Minister of Commerce Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossCommerce Department Unit Gathers Information About Employees, Census Critics: Report Former Trump Officials Find Hard Work Market On The Money: Retail Sales Fall In Recent Signs Of Weakening Economy | Fast food workers strike for minimum wage | U.S. officials raise concerns about Mexico’s handling of energy permits MORE after a government watchdog found out he was giving false testimony to Congress about the Trump administration’s failed efforts to add a citizenship issue to the 2020 census.
In a letter to congressional leaders released Friday, Commerce Secretary General Peggy Gustafson said her office had provided evidence to the Justice Department that Ross had not been truthful in a couple of House hearings in 2018, but federal prosecutors refused to bring charges mean against the former secretary.
“Our inquiry found that the then Secretary erroneously provided the full justification for the reintroduction of the citizenship issue during his March 20, 2018 testimony to the House Committee on Appropriations and again in his March 22, 2018 testimony to the 2nd House Committee on Ways and Means “During the testimony of Congress, the then Secretary of State declared that his decision to reintroduce the issue of citizenship was based solely on a DOJ request.”
The letter was first reported by the Government Executive News Committee.
A spokesman for the Commerce Department inspector’s office told The Hill that the DOJ under the Trump administration made the decision not to charge Ross last January.
A spokesman for the DOJ could not immediately comment.
Rep. Carolyn MaloneyCarolyn MaloneyNY Progressive Bowman Introduces 6B ‘Green New Deal for Public Schools’ Overnight Health Care: Senate Budget Agreement to Provide New Funding for Medicare, Medicaid, ObamaCare | More than 2 million sign up during special ObamaCare enrollment period US drug overdose deaths rise to record last year Oversight Democrats launch GOP Arizona election audit investigation MORE (DN.Y.), chair of the House Monitoring Committee, promised to continue investigating the Trump administration’s efforts on the issue of citizenship, which she said was aimed at “skewing the census for political gain.”
“The Independent Inspector General has confirmed what the Supervisory Committee found in our comprehensive investigation: that Secretary Ross misled Congress and the American people about the true motives behind the Trump administration’s illegal efforts to add a citizenship issue to the census,” Maloney said in a statement Monday. “Lying to Congress is unacceptable, and the IG did the right thing by referring Secretary Ross’s behavior to the Department of Justice.”
Ross repeatedly insisted in 2018 and 2019 that the decision to add the citizenship issue was based solely on a DOJ request for data to inform its efforts to enforce the VRA Act.
But in his letter Friday, Gustafson said there was evidence that Ross had investigated the addition of a citizenship issue long before the December 2017 DOJ request.
“However, evidence shows that there was significant communication related to the citizenship issue among the then secretary, his staff and other government officials between March 2017 and September 2017, which was long before the DOJ requested the memorandum,” the inspector’s letter reads. “Evidence also suggests that the department requested and played a role in drafting the DOJ memorandum. In addition, the then secretary sent a memorandum to the department on June 21, 2018, clarifying his considerations regarding the addition of a citizenship issue to the Decennial Census. “Memorandum, the then Secretary stated that he began to consider the content of the 2020 census to include the reintroduction of the issue of citizenship shortly after his appointment as Secretary.”
Ross, who years before his cabinet appointment in the Trump administration was CEO and co-owner of The Hill’s parent company, News Communications Inc., could not be immediately reached for comment.
The inspector’s general investigation was launched on June 27, 2019, the day the Supreme Court blocked the Trump administration from moving forward with its plans to add a citizenship issue. The Supreme Court John Roberts, who joined the court’s four liberal judges by sitting against the administration, wrote in the majority opinion that the evidence revealed “a significant discrepancy between the secretary’s decision and the reasoning he provided.”
“Unlike a typical case where an agency may have both stated and unspecified reasons for a decision, the VRA enforcement basis – the sole reason given – appears to be constructed,” Roberts wrote. , that agencies offer genuine justification for important decisions, reasons that can be investigated by courts and the interested public. The explanation given here was more of a distraction. “
—Updated at 18:16