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House committee considers subpoena for census documents

House committee considers subpoena for census documents
House Committee on Oversight and Reform Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney sent a letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross Thursday urging him to produce requested census documents or face subpoena. File Photo by Alex Edelman/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 3 (UPI) -- House Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney warned Thursday of a subpoena for census documents after finding that data problems could delay the count into February.

The Oversight Committee held a hearing at 10 a.m. Thursday to examine internal documents and risks to a complete and accurate 2020 census count.

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Maloney sent a letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on Wednesday alleging obstruction of inquiry into 'unresolved errors' and urging him to produce census documents.

The committee requested the documents after news reports that "growing snags in the massive data-processing operation that generated population totals" would delay the count "at least until until January, and perhaps to mid-February," but documents were not provided.

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The Census director and other top officials said that documents were submitted to Secretary Ross' General counsel, but were not cleared for release due to "concerns about ongoing litigation."

"Despite the Trump Administration's obstruction, the committee has now obtained several internal Census Bureau documents from another source that not only confirm these press reports, but indicate that unresolved errors may be more extensive than first reported," Maloney wrote. "I write to urge you to end your obstruction of the committee's inquiry on this critical issue and produce a full and unredacted set of the documents requested by the committee. If you refuse, the committee will have no choice but to issue a subpoena."

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In the letter, Maloney said the committee has now obtained new internal documents showing at least 15 anomalies impacting more than a million census records across all 50 states, which could take several additional weeks to resolve.

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"By blocking the production of the full set of documents requested by the committee last month, the Trump Administration is preventing Congress from verifying the scope of these anomalies, their impact on the accuracy of the census, and the time professionals at the Census Bureau need to fix them," Maloney wrote.

Earlier this week the Supreme Court heard arguments on whether undocumented immigrants should not be counted in the U.S. census and appeared hesitant to rule on the issue.

"The Department's insistence on withholding documents due to 'ongoing litigation' raises questions about whether the administration is seeking to conceal information not only from Congress, but from the judiciary," Maloney wrote.

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Maloney's letter urges Ross to produce the complete and unredacted documents requested by Dec. 9 or inform the committee whether a subpoena is necessary to compel their production.

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