The House Democrat whom Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross misled when he told her he had not spoken to the White House about adding a citizenship question to the census wants Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused from any Justice Department investigation into Ross’ alleged false statement to Congress.
Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY), who grilled Ross on his move to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census at an appropriations hearing last March, had previously requested the Justice Department to investigate his claim then that he was not “aware” of any discussions with the White House between him or his staff about the question.
Ross admitted this month in a court filing that he had a phone conversation with then-White House adviser Steve Bannon in spring 2017 about discussing the question with Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.
The court filing was in a federal lawsuit in New York against the administration for adding the question, which may discourage immigrant participation in the decennial survey, shifting political power and federal resources away from their communities.
The challengers have sought to depose Ross in the lawsuit, pointing to the Bannon comment and other remarks Ross has made to Congress about how the census citizenship question came about that have been contradicted by the records and court filings released in the litigation.
Sessions, in a speech in front of the Heritage Foundation last week, bashed a lower court order allowing the deposition (which the Supreme Court temporarily blocked Monday night) and defended Ross’ move to add the question.
Meng sent Sessions a letter Monday that said, in making those remarks, Sessions had “conspicuously ignored the record contained” in her previous letter “demonstrating Secretary Ross’ attempt to conceal his discussion with Steve Bannon on subject of the citizenship question while testifying to Congress.”
“As a former member of Congress I am sure you fully appreciate the gravity of a sitting cabinet secretary brazenly lying to Congress,” she wrote, going on to ask that he recuse himself from the investigation into Ross she requested and that such a probe is conducted in an “independent manner.”
Read Meng’s letter below: