August 10, 2022

Speaker Pelosi just vowed to bring criminal contempt charges over Trump’s census disaster

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Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) just set a House vote on new criminal contempt charges against Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.


A credible source close to the Speaker told the Washington Press they believe that “soon” could mean shortly after Special Counsel Mueller testifies to the House Judiciary Committee, which is next week.

The House Government Oversight Committee subpoenaed records from Ross and Barr related to President Trump’s obviously racist effort to suppress the count of Latino households in the upcoming 2020 census. The Commerce Secretary claimed that the Department of Justice had provided a legal excuse to tilt the census towards white voters to help Republicans in elections, but neither would hand over documents about it to Congress.

In June, the committee voted to hold Trump cabinet secretaries in criminal contempt for hiding their national gerrymandering plan. Politico reports:

House Democratic leaders plan to move forward with criminal contempt proceedings against Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross for defying congressional subpoenas for documents related to the 2020 census, senior Democratic aides said Monday.

[I]n a letter to colleagues on Monday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House will take action “soon” on contempt.

“I want to know why this question was magically added after we have seen that a political operative knew and detailed an intent to intimidate racial and immigrant communities for a partisan purpose,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) told Politico when the contempt citation was voted out of committee.

Barely a week after Rep. Ocasio-Cortez called the reasons for Trump’s census question about citizenship and act of racism, definitive proof of its discriminatory intent leaked when the daughter of North Carolina GOP’s recently deceased gerrymandering expert Tom Hofeller, discovered emails on one of his hard drives that proved the New York representative to be spot on.

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Hofeller planned the Tea Party’s 2010 takeover of statehouses and the subsequent gerrymanders. His hard drives showed that the Republicans have lied to courts about their racist intent. And GOP operatives and elected officials lied about deadlines, which is happening in the separate court actions over the census fight right now, which already lost at the Supreme Court in such a way that the issue should be dead, but it’s not.

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Traditionally, the Department of Justice prosecutes cases of criminal contempt of Congress, however, they are the party at odds with the House, so they won’t take up the case.

However, federal courts do have the power to appoint a special prosecutor who is not affiliated with the Department of Justice.

A recent example of that happening is unfolding in Arizona, where the nightmarishly racist former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is still fighting to vacate a court’s ruling of contempt of court, for which he will face no punishment due to pardon from President Trump.

Arpaio fought the appointment of a special prosecutor on constitutional grounds and the case went all the way up to the Supreme Court in April, and he lost.

The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives will definitely have the votes to pass a criminal contempt of Congress motion when Speaker Pelosi – who is known as a sharp vote counter – brings the motion to the floor. The real question is: How long will it take for Attorney General Barr and Commerce Secretary Ross to feel the consequences?

Grant Stern

Editor at Large

is the Executive Editor of Occupy Democrats and published author. His new Meet the Candidates 2020 book series is distributed by Simon and Schuster. He's also a mortgage broker, community activist and radio personality in Miami, Florida., as well as the producer of the Dworkin Report podcast. Grant is also an occasional contributor to Raw Story, Alternet, and the DC Report, an unpaid senior advisor to the Democratic Coalition, and a Director of Sunshine Agenda Inc. a government transparency nonprofit organization.

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