The Emperor’s New Clothes

July 3, 2019 4:05 p.m.

laid out where we are the census citizenship question as of mid-afternoon today, but this report from CNN nicely captures the inanity of the President acting out on Twitter while lawyers are trying to represent the government in an actual federal court with rules and consequences and such:

A White House official said earlier Wednesday afternoon that there are ongoing discussions at the White House about finding a path forward for the government to continue to press its case on getting the citizenship question on the census.

The issue is whether and how to do so even as the Department of Commerce has begun to print the 2020 questionnaire without the citizenship question, the official said.

This official suggested the printing process and Trump’s vow to keep fighting this issue are not necessarily mutually exclusive — or at least that administration lawyers are trying to figure out how to square the two.

The most obvious way to square this is rhetorical: loudly vow to keep fighting even as your actions implicitly acknowledge defeat. Trump has done it before, perhaps most notably at various points during the ACA repeal debacle of 2017.

That being said, can we rule out Trump suddenly upending the census and the ongoing litigation. Not at all.

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