Oct 12 2018

Rotten From The Top Down

As I feel the need to remind people from time to time, Trump is only part of what’s wrong. The real problem is Republicans. What Trump does is articulate their abhorrent agenda out loud.

Oh, and he has no manners (shoe leather and ketchup, yeesh).

Other than that his polcies are mainstream Republican from the casual bigotry and misogyny to the reverse Robin Hood Corporatist Ripoffs.

The reason Repulicans are anti-Immigrant and pro-Voter Suppression is that they are a minority Party that can’t win elections anymore except among the most ignorant rubes. The only way they can stay in power is by cheating.

For me what’s instructive about this story is while it makes a lying perjuror out of Wilbur Ross who is a member of team Trump, it would be exactly the same with any random Commerce Secretary in a Republican Administration.

Republicans delenda est.

New document contradicts Ross’s congressional testimony on census citizenship question
By Tara Bahrampour, Washington Post
October 11, 2018

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross recalled talking with former White House adviser Stephen K. Bannon and Attorney General Jeff Sessions about adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census, according to a document filed Thursday by the Justice Department, though he testified to Congress that he had not done so.

The document, part of a multistate lawsuit against the Trump administration over the question, said Ross recalls Bannon calling him in the spring of 2017 to ask whether Ross would speak to Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach about ideas for a possible citizenship question on the census.

The document appears to contradict Ross’s testimony to Congress this year. When asked at a hearing on March 20 by Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y) whether the president or anyone in the White House had discussed the citizenship question with him, Ross said, “I am not aware of any such.”

The document was released as the Supreme Court is expected to rule on whether Ross can be deposed in the case. In August, a U.S. District Court judge ordered Ross and John Gore, the acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, to sit for depositions.

An appeals court ruled Tuesday that the deposition could take place, and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg issued a stay on that decision pending a response from the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs filed the reply Thursday, and Ginsburg can either rule on it herself or refer it to the full court.

The document is a response to questions sent by New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood (D) in the discovery phase of the multistate lawsuit seeking to block the administration from adding a citizenship question to the decennial count. It is one of six legal challenges to the question, which Ross announced March 26 would be added to the survey to help enforce the Voting Rights Act.

Internal documents released in the New York case over the summer indicated that Ross was pushing for a citizenship question more actively, and much earlier, than his sworn testimony indicated.

Democrats have said they will try to legislate against the question if they gain control of the House or the Senate in next month’s midterm elections. They could also request the Justice Department prosecute Ross for perjury.

“It is a crime to lie to Congress, and it is within the attorney general’s purview to prosecute it,” said Austin Evers, executive director of American Oversight, an ethics watchdog group.

“Under Jeff Sessions’s own policy, the Department of Justice should be prosecuting the most serious readily provable crime in all cases, so any divergence from that policy here would be a political exception to the rule. It is uncommon for an attorney general to prosecute its own Cabinet member, but this is a pretty clear-cut case of a false statement.”

President Trump’s effort to rig the census is a deepening scandal
By Paul Waldman, Washington Post
October 12, 2018

As you may have heard, the administration decided soon after taking office that it wanted to add a question to the 2020 Census about whether the person filling out the form or those in their household are U.S. citizens — a question that has not appeared on the decennial census for 70 years. As anyone who has conducted interviews for the census will tell you, a great challenge in this monumental effort is getting everyone to answer so as to get a complete count. It is particularly difficult in communities of immigrants because, even when they are here legally, they have a natural suspicion of government representatives knocking on their doors.

Add in the Trump administration’s open hostility toward immigrants and increasingly aggressive enforcement tactics, and that suspicion will inevitably be increased. If, on top of that, you start quizzing people about their citizenship status, you are virtually guaranteed to undercount immigrants. When that happens, it means that areas, cities, congressional districts, and states with large numbers of immigrants will appear smaller than they are, leading to diversion of resources, representation and political power.

Which is precisely the point. But if you’re the Trump administration, you can’t just come out and say that you want to add a citizenship question in order to undercount immigrants to give Republicans a political advantage. So what did it do?

The story the administration came up with was that the citizenship question is necessary in order to properly enforce the Voting Rights Act. Which was always a little strange, given that Republicans have virtually no interest in enforcing the Voting Rights Act, not to mention the fact that adding a citizenship question isn’t going to help them do so. But lacking any less ridiculous justification, that’s what they settled on.

How can I confidently say this was bogus from the start? Because we have documentary evidence showing the administration constructing the lie.

The census is housed within the Commerce Department, under Secretary Wilbur Ross. As part of spreading the lie about the Voting Rights Act, Ross testified before Congress that adding the citizenship question wasn’t even his department’s idea; it supposedly happened because the Justice Department requested it. When he was asked about it under oath in March, Ross said, “The Department of Justice, as you know, initiated the request for inclusion of the citizenship question.”

This was a lie, one of two he told under oath that may well constitute perjury. In fact, the Justice Department did not initiate the request for the citizenship question. What actually happened was that the Commerce Department asked the Justice Department to ask the Commerce Department to ask for the citizenship question, to create what was in effect a false paper trail to cover up what it was actually doing.

In emails obtained in a lawsuit challenging the plan to add a citizenship question, Ross wrote to one of his aides: “I am mystified why nothing [has] been done in response to my months old request that we include the citizenship question. Why not?” The aide responded: “We need to work with Justice to get them to request that citizenship be added back as a census question.”

There is a bunch of back-and-forth within the documents that shows there was some reluctance at the Justice Department to participate in this ruse until, eventually, a Trump appointee writes a letter in December 2017 “requesting” the insertion of a citizenship question. But there is no doubt that it was the Commerce Department that got things in motion. Ross lied under oath when he claimed that Justice “initiated the request.”

Now let’s take a moment for some straight talk. The idea that the Trump administration wants to add a citizenship question to the census solely to aid in enforcement of the Voting Rights Act is one of a particular genre of Republican lie — the kind everyone knows is a lie every time it’s uttered, but somehow people convince themselves to take seriously. Like “we only imposed these vote suppression measures because we’re deeply concerned about voter fraud,” or “we only imposed these onerous regulations on abortion clinics because we’re deeply concerned about women’s health.” That they can say those things without dissolving into giggles is a testament to their steely self-control, yet we’re all supposed to pretend they are being sincere.

Lying to the public is one thing, however, while lying to Congress is a criminal act. And in Wilbur Ross’ case, he didn’t just lie about the administration’s intentions, he lied about specific facts.

We all know what’s actually going on. Republicans want the census to undercount immigrants; Bannon and Kobach, two of the most fiercely anti-immigrant figures in Trump’s orbit, weren’t working with Ross on this because they wanted to ensure that the census is as accurate as possible. Their involvement makes clear what the real agenda likely was: depriving immigrant communities of representation and further rigging the system in favor of Republicans. The question now is whether they’ll get away with it.