Perjury during Congressional testimony seems so commonplace after Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings that it almost seems quaint that anyone still believes that there should be consequences for the crime which theoretically carries penalties of up to five years in prison.
Still, Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-NY) is now calling for the Justice Department to investigate Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross for lying to Congress during a hearing about the 2020 U.S. census. Rep. Meng is demanding action after emails — newly released under court order — revealed that former White House Senior Advisor Steve Bannon had requested that Ross include a question about citizenship status to the census form, an idea that originated with the Republican Kansas Secretary of State, Kris Kobach.
The Commerce Secretary had previously testified under oath while responding to a question from Rep. Meng as to the origin of the census query that he wasn’t sure where it came from but that neither he nor the White House was involved, according to a report by RawStory.
Here's Why Doris Day May Not Have Been As Wholesome As She Seemed
How Well Do You Really Know Nfl Team Logos?
Pour Salt Down Your Drain Before Bed, Here's Why
Now that the release of the emails proves that Ross lied in his testimony, the Congresswoman is livid.
“I’m upset,” Meng said in an interview with CNN’s Fredricka Whitfield. “He lied to my face and made multiple statements about the request being originated from the Justice Department about the Voting Rights Act. It is clear now that this was a political move as we have seen multiple pieces of evidence and he lied to my face when I asked him about that question.”
The fact that the Justice Department would need to be the agency to investigate Ross’s perjured statements complicates matters considerably since Democrats believe that members of the Department were part of the conspiracy by the Trump administration to add the question to the census.
Moreover, the head of the Department, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has himself been accused of perjury during his own confirmation hearings when he conveniently forgot about his multiple meetings with Russian diplomats as he testified that he had no contacts with Russians during the Trump campaign.
A spokesperson for Ross denied that he had lied and claimed that the question he was responding to was about an email and not about the citizenship question. Rep. Meng called Ross’s excuse nonsensical.
“They are wrong,” she said. “If you look at the transcript of the hearing, if you look at the video, which was just shown, I specifically referenced the additional citizenship question being add and that’s what we were discussing.”
With the Trump administration doing everything in their power to restrict immigration of all forms, both legal and illegal — even denying passports to U.S.-born citizens who were delivered outside of hospitals near the Mexican border because of supposed insufficient proof of place of birth — the inclusion of a citizenship question on the census form raises multiple fears. One is that the census will be used by ICE to conduct deportation raids. The other, and perhaps even more dastardly, fear is that people will refuse to fill out the census form altogether out of concern that they will become targets of the government.
If people are not counted in the census because they fail to fill out the forms, the undercounting of the population in their area can have severe consequences to their representation in Congress and the division of federal funds for everything from infrastructure to social services, which is why the Constitution mandates the census be held every ten years.
Hopefully, the revelation of the proof of Ross’ perjury will lead to an investigation and prosecution against the Commerce Secretary. With Republicans now in control of all three branches of government, however, you shouldn’t hold your breath seeking justice for this crime…at least until after the midterm elections.
Follow Vinnie Longobardo on Twitter.