President Trump’s claims of “FAKE” news surrounding reports that the Justice Department had backed down in the push for the citizenship questions on the 2020 census were a surprise to not just DOJ officials, but also members of the administration and those who back the citizenship question effort.
According to the Wall Street Journal, during the span of time that Trump posted his first tweet about how “sad” it was that the question sparked such controversy and when DOJ lawyers met with the judges later Thursday, Trump administration officials were “scrambling,” in the WSJ’s words.
“Nobody has any fucking idea,” a person familiar with the matter told the WSJ when asked to clarify Trump’s tweet.
Just one day after a DOJ spokesperson confirmed to TPM that the 2020 census had been sent to the printer without the citizenship question, DOJ officials told U.S. District Judge George Hazel that they’d been “instructed” to find a way to get the question on the census.
The Supreme Court last week upheld a lower court decision blocking Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross from adding the citizenship question to the census, but the opinion arguably left the Trump administration with some wiggle room to re-add it.
The decision to back down and not include the question in the 2020 census came as the administration was under a time crunch to send the survey forms to the printer.
Trump weighed in again on Thursday, declaring his DOJ and Commerce Department would be working through the holiday to figure out a way to get the question on the census.
So important for our Country that the very simple and basic “Are you a Citizen of the United States?” question be allowed to be asked in the 2020 Census. Department of Commerce and the Department of Justice are working very hard on this, even on the 4th of July!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 4, 2019