Posts tagged with "Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross"

Worthy of contempt: House retaliates against Barr and Ross for refusing to deliver census documents

July 19, 2019

The House may not be getting much satisfaction from the Executive Branch these days, but its Democratic Caucus finally has exacted retribution.

On July 17, members of the House voted 230-193 to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in criminal contempt of Congress for their refusal to turn over key documents related to the Trump administration’s intention to add a citizenship question to the 2020 U.S. Census, The New York Times reported.

Democrats investigating the issue believe that the documents and testimony that Barr and Ross have shielded from public view would confirm what they have long suspected—that the question was being added to the Census for politically motivated reasons; and not to better enforce the Voting Rights Act, as the Trump administration claims.

The Supreme Court hinted at that theory in late June in a ruling about the citizenship question, when Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the majority, said the explanation offered by the Trump administration for adding the question “appears to have been contrived.”

And in an unusual twist, President Trump himself all but confirmed those suspicions this month when he said of the citizenship question, “You need it for Congress, for districting.”

Democrats said Wednesday that their investigation would continue regardless, in an effort to vindicate Congress’s oversight authority and potentially head off future attempts to discourage participation by noncitizens in the census.

“It is bigger than the census. It is about protecting the integrity of the Congress of the United States of America,” Representative Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, the Oversight and Reform Committee chairman, said as he whipped up support on the House floor. “We need to understand how and why the Trump administration tried to add a question based on pretext so that we can consider reforms to ensure that this never happens again.”

Wednesday’s contempt vote formally authorized the oversight panel to take AG Barr and Secretary Ross to federal court to seek judicial enforcement of subpoenas for the material in question. A lawsuit is expected in the coming weeks, and the administration has maintained it is on firm legal footing in its position.

Research contact: @nytimes

House Dems to hold contempt vote against Barr and McGahn on June 11

June 5, 2019

The House will vote next week on a resolution to hold Attorney General William Barr and former White House counsel Don McGahn in contempt of Congress, Politico reports.

Barr—who misrepresented the findings of the Mueller report to Congress and the U.S. public, according to the investigators—also has failed to comply with a subpoena for a fully unredacted copy of the report and underlying evidence; McGahn balked at a subpoena to testify before the House Judiciary Committee.

According to Politico, the resolution, to be introduced on June 11, would clear the way for the House Judiciary Committee to take Barr and McGahn to court to enforce their subpoenas; and would enable Democrats to set in motion their obstruction of justice investigation against President Donald Trump.

“This Administration’s systematic refusal to provide Congress with answers and cooperate with Congressional subpoenas is the biggest cover-up in American history, and Congress has a responsibility to provide oversight on behalf of the American people,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said in a statement.

The vote also will offer broad authority for congressional committees to take legal action against the Trump administration in future subpoena fights, Democratic sources told the news outlet.

The vote—which is supported by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Hoyer, and other top members of House leadership—will authorize the House to hold the two men in civil contempt. Democrats will forgo an effort to hold them in criminal contempt—which Democratic sources described as an empty gesture because Barr, in particular, would never face charges from his own Justice Department.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler said on June 1 that he was pressing for a floor vote on contempt for Barr as quickly as possible so that the committee could take Barr to court and attempt to enforce its subpoena.

The move comes as a growing number of House Democrats are calling for Trump’s impeachment—and they may not be satisfied with a slap at his attorney general, Politico said.

Meanwhile, Democrats on the House Oversight Committee are threatening to hold Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena seeking information about efforts to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census.

Research contact: @politico

Trump imposes steel, aluminum tariffs on EU, Canada and Mexico

June 1, 2018

The Trump administration will levy onerous steel and aluminum tariffs on its close allies—the European Union, Canada and Mexico—starting today, in a move likely to lead to retaliation and risk the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), The Hill reported.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a conference call with the media on May 31 that—following months of entreaties from the three trading partners—the president had decided to end temporary exemptions.

This is not a step that the American public support, based on results of a recent Quinnipiac Poll. U.S. voters oppose (50% to 31%) tariffs on steel and aluminum, and disagree (64% to 28%) with President Donald Trump’s claim that a trade war would be good for the U.S. and easily won, the researchers found.

Every listed party, gender, education, age and racial group opposes steel and aluminum tariffs, except for the Republicans, who support tariffs by a lackluster 58% to 20%; and white voters with no college degree, who are divided (42% to 40%).

American voters oppose these tariffs (59 % to 29%), Quinnipiac found, if these tariffs raise the cost of the goods they buy. Indeed,American voters disapprove (54% to 34%) of the way in which the POTUS is handling trade.

Ross said on Thursday, “We look forward to continued negotiations with Canada and Mexico on one hand; and with the European Commission on the other hand, as there are other issues we need to get resolved.”

The Commerce Secretary noted that the Trump administration would need to see the reactions of Canada, Mexico and the 28-nation EU bloc before determining what to do next.

But, The Hill reported, he said that U.S. officials are “quite willing and eager” to have further discussions with all of the parties.

The trading partners all had warned America that they intended to impose retaliatory tariffs on U.S. exports, if President Trump made this move.

According to The Hill, the EU is expected to quickly retaliate with promised tariffs of about $3.3 billion on iconic American products such as bourbon, jeans and motorcycles.

Last year, nearly 50% of U.S. steel and aluminum imports came from the EU, Canada and Mexico. Trump first announced tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminum for national security reasons in March.

Canada and Mexico also have said that tariffs are unacceptable, don’t affect U.S. national security and that their implementation could put the fate of NAFTA at stake.

Research contact: peter.brown@quinnipiac.edu