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Excerpts of Wilbur Ross’ Testimony Before House Oversight Committee on Citizenship Question and Related Matters | Wilbur Ross issued a legal citation to comply by Tuesday and deliver documents and testimony which he has refused or be subpoenaed + other details

###Key points from the 6-hour hearing, excerpted and condensed to about 15 minutes of reading.

Wilbur Ross testified before the House Oversight Committee on the nuances and minutia of the citizenship question. Though not as sexy as the highly anticipated Cohen hearing, there were some interesting exchanges at points during the hearing, especially towards the end such as during AOC’s time between her, Ross, and several members of the committee which I had to transcribe almost completely.

#####Legal Citation for Privilege to Withold, Voting Rights Act Violation, and Request “in writing” about claim to be compliant with it

Additionally, Ross was issued a legal citation by Rep. Raskin to provide a legal argument of why he believes he can withhold documents or testimony from Congress based on invoking “confidentiality”. As was argued, confidentiality does not equate to privilege. Following AOC’s claim that Ross didn’t comply with the law requiring 3 separate reports to Congress per the Voting Rights Act of 1974, and Ross claiming that he has complied, Cummings ordered him to give him that claim in writing.

**The best way to combat disinformation is to stay informed. As with the Cohen thread from 2 weeks ago, I figured that because the most direct way of consuming raw information is straight from the source, but there is too much time-consuming detail for the average person in such a long hearing, that perhaps this format below could be faster and more direct and efficient for communicating these details that many news articles, or video cannot fully capture. The outtakes of key points, either paraphrased or direct quotation, can serve as a quick vehicle of consuming, citing, and sharing important info that is sometimes dense, nuanced, and lost in the average news overview.**

#####A chronological excerpted hearing overview. ™

####Keep Track Congressional hearing threads


* **[Cohen: House Oversight – Feb. 27](**


* **[Felix Sater: House Intel – March 27](**

*(Not every single Representative had new or interesting points, those were omitted, and a few fell through the cracks.)*

*(Some physical reactions captured at the exact moment for historical archiving or interest)*

*(Some minimal commentary in italicized brackets)*



[Cummings]( (Chairman)| Maryland | 7
[Maloney](| New York| 12
[Norton](| DC| At-large
[Clay](| Missouri| 1
[Lynch](| Massachusetts| 8
[Cooper](| Tennessee| 5
[Connolly](| Virginia| 11
[Krishnamoorthi](| Illinois| 8
[Raskin](| Maryland| 8
[Rouda](| California| 48
[Hill]( (Vice Chair)| California| 25
[Schultz](| Florida| 23
[Sarbanes](| Maryland| 3
[Welch](| Vermont| At-large
[Speier](| California| 14
[Kelly](| Illinois| 2
[DeSaulnier](| California| 11
[Lawrence](| Michigan| 14
[Plaskett](| U.S. Virgin Islands| At-large
[Khanna](| California| 17
[Gomez](| California| 34
[Ocasio-Cortez](| New York| 14
[Pressley](| Massachusetts| 7
[Tlaib](| Michigan| 13


[Jordan]( (Ranking Member)| Ohio| 4
[Amash](| Michigan| 3
[Gosar](| Arizona| 4
[Foxx](| North Carolina| 5
[Massie](| Kentucky| 4
[Meadows](| North Carolina| 11
[Hice](| Georgia| 10
[Grothman](| Wisconsin| 6
[Comer](| Kentucky| 1
[Cloud](| Texas| 27
[Gibbs](| Ohio| 7
[Higgins](| Louisiana| 3
[Norman](| South Carolina| 5
[Roy](| Texas| 21
[Miller](| West Virginia| 3
[Green](| Tennessee| 7
[Armstrong](| North Dakota| At-large
[Steube](| Florida| 17

**(R) JORDAN**:

* Accuses Democrats of playing politics. Says that the hearing interferes with an ongoing Supreme Court case and that the question is “to ensure everyone’s vote is counted fairly.”

**(R) MEADOWS:**

* Says that we should be able to ask this on the census because it was asked fully in the 40s and 50s and asked as a selection of a population in the decades that followed.

**(D) HILL:**

* “I know I’m new here, but how many times did we as the Democrats tried to shut down a meeting concerning the census”

* Cummings: “In my 23 years here, never.”

* Hill enters a slew of documents which she claims contradicts the claims that the Supreme Court litigation has anything to do with preventing Ross to provide documents.


* States that the question additions was objected to by multiple Census experts.

* The experts said that the question: “Harms the quality of the Census count, let that sink in.”

* Ross appeared 3 times before Congress last year and said that he did so out of request from the DOJ.

* Documents surfaced that to the contrary, Ross was involved in a secret campaign with top Trump admin officials, to add the question. “These facts are not disputable.”

* Thus far 2 federal judges have ruled that Ross had broken the law, violated the Constitution, and concealed his true motives.


#####[Full opening statement](

*(Like me, you’ll probably need to watch him speak in 1.5x or you’ll go mad after a while.)*

* The question has been asked in whole or in part since 1820, except for 2010. Says that he consulted with the DOJ whether to include the question and was told to do so.


* You have repeatedly testified under oath that you were solely responding to a DOJ request. But we have documents that show that you were in fact working in secret with top admin officials. You claimed that the DOJ letters were the sole reason for your decision.

* Ross: Says that he followed the appropriate protocols and he was merely responding to the DOJ request.

* Cummings: Says that we have documents that contradict Ross’ assertion that he was acting solely due to the DOJ request. Asks him if he wants to amend his previous testimonies in which he claimed this. Ross declines and has no control over emails sent to him.

* Cummings: Responds by saying that he believes this question was included because it was meant to serve as a pretext for law enforcement purposes. “Your staff [hand delivered]( a secret handwritten memo to Mr. Gore at the DOJ. Did that note state your real reason for wanting to include the question?”

* Ross: “I don’t think there’s anything in evidence that my staff delivered a message of that sort to Gore.”

**(R) MEADOWS:**

* Asks Ross whether Democrat President had a nefarious purpose when they included the question in some manner? To which Ross says he does not.


* “Why did you request a citizenship question memo in Aug 2017?” Ross says he doesn’t remember anything about it and says that’s a very broad question, whereas DeSaulnier says that’s it’s actually very specific.

* “Do you remember having your general counsel walk the handwritten memo to the DOJ because you were concerned about email?”

* Ross: “Not as I sit here today.”

* “Do you remember directing your general counsel to walk it over?”

* Ross: No

**(R) STEUBE:**

* Says the Supreme Court could use this testimony in their case.

**(D) NORTON:**

* Says that the Supreme Court can only use things that are part of their record.

**(R) FOXX:**

* How can the citizenship question better inform the debate about immigration?

* Ross: The information we gather is private and will not be used to target anyone individually.

**(R) MEADOWS:**

**(D) CLAY:**


* Says that the Supreme Court can use anything said here in any pending case.

**(D) RASKIN:**

* What did your memo say and are you willing to turn it over to Congress? – “I will confer with my staff and counsel.” *(Repeated for the 10th + time)*

* There is nothing preventing you from providing providing documentation to Congress. Ongoing litigation, as has been the repeated rationale, does not prevent your from cooperating.

**(R) GOSAR:**

* Claims that if we only count citizens then Democrats will lose their majority in the House.

* The UN recommends that countries ask the citizenship question.


* Where would citizens born in DC check off on your form? – Says he doesn’t know. Doesn’t allow him to answer one of his questions because he takes so much time to answer simple questions.

**(R) HICE:**

**(R) MEADOWS:**


* Since 1950 the citizenship question has only been asked of some households not every household. Says that Mr. Gore of the DOJ, under oath, said that the DOJ does not need the citizenship question in order to comply with the Voting Rights Act.

**(R) MILLER:**

**(R) ROUDA:**

* Both Democratic and Republican former Directors of the Census Bureu have voiced their strong criticism against including the citizenship question to be asked of all households out of fear that it would decrease accuracy and endanger the many programs that get allocated funds from the information in the census.

**(R) GIBBS:**



* On Mar 15, 2018 we discussed the citizenship question with one of your aides, concerning its accuracy. Did you make up your mind at that point? Because 11 days later you announced that you would be adding the question.

**(R) COMER:**

**(D) LYNCH:**

* Have you had any conversations about transferring nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia, with Kushner, Barak, or Flynn? – Says he is unauthorized to discuss confidential information with WH officials.


* On Mar 20, 2018 you testified before the Appropriations Committee and said that no one from the WH contacted you about the question. However, new evidence shows that a WH officials (Bannon) contacted you about this question.

**(R) CLOUD:**

* Says that this question has been used previously and doesn’t understand why it’s an issue now.

**(D) SCHULTZ:**

* From an email you sent, who were you referring to about being “dug in” about not including the citizenship question? – Says he doesn’t know and says that he won’t discuss any conversations with department officials because they are confidential.

* Presses him to answer the question and whether he is claiming executive privilege. – He says he is not, but doesn’t answer the question before time runs out.

**(R) JORDAN:**

**(D) SPEIER:**

* You said the DOJ initiated the conversation about the question. But your Deputy Chief of Staff said, under oath, that you initiated it shortly after being confirmed.

**(R) NORMAN:**


* In your exchange with Earl Comstock, (Senior official at Commerce; Director, Office of Policy and Strategic Planning) wrote back to you saying that “we need to work with Justice to get them to request that citizenship question should be added back to the census, and we have the court cases to illustrate that the DOJ had legitimate reasons to add it.”

**(R) HIGGINS:**

**(D) MALONEY:**

* Says that 2 federal judges have concluded that you broke federal law and that your decision was arbitrary and capricious. 6 former Census Directors, 4 Democrats, and 2 Republicans, the Census Bureu’s chief scientist and other professionals, the Acting Director of the Census Bureau, and 2 federal judges, have all said that the question will lead to an undercount and an inaccurate census. Are you telling us that all these professionals are wrong and you are right?

**(R) ROY:**

* I would simply like to know how many citizens are in this country.

**(D) KHANNA:**

**(R) GREEN:**

**(D) TLAIB:**

**(D) GOMEZ:**

* Says, “I like how the Secretary has crisp yes no answers when the Republicans are asking, but that’s not the same when the Democrats are asking.

* Says that this whole thing doesn’t make sense because you said that the process originated with the DOJ, but we have evidence “that you were shopping around that you wanted someone to ask the question or propose it [to the Commerce Dept]. You went to the DHS for some reason. I don’t know what they have to do with the census, but you went there. They said no, so you went back to the DOJ. You then got an email that says the AG is willing to assist you. Why is he assisting you, not the other way around? That’s why this whole charade doesn’t make sense. Even if you were to explain it to a kid. If you just think about it, it doesn’t make sense.”

**(D) AOC:**

* Kansas Sec of State, Chris Kobach, who is noted by the NY Times as having labored hard in the areas of voter suppression and nativism, is quoted to have said that he encouraged Trump to add the question in the early weeks of his presidency. Did you speak to him about this?

* Ross: Yes

* AOC: “Kobach wrote an email to you that said, “the lack of a citizenship question leads to the problem that aliens who do not actually reside in the United States are still counted for congressional apportionment…” He then wrote, “it is essential that one simple question be added to the 2020 census.” It’s all there in black and white. Kobach is clear about his reason for adding the citizenship question in correspondence to you. And it has nothing to do with the DOJ or the Voting Rights Act.”

* AOC: Following that email’s concerning contents, did you cut off all contact with him after this email or did you speak with him again?”

* Ross: “I don’t have a recollection of speaking with him again.”

* AOC: “Well, the SDNY has identified a July 25th call between you and Mr. Kobach after that email. Did you bring up the citizenship question with anyone else in the Commerce dept. after that email?”

* Ross: “We ultimately rejected the question that Kobach wanted added.”

* AOC: Well, it says here that Judge Ferman of the SDNY wrote that you brought up Kobach again in a Sept 6, 2017 meeting on the citizenship question. In fact, it was so concerning to your own staff that the general counsel expressed “concern” about your contact with Kobach and recommended you talk to them first. Do you recall that meeting?”

* Ross: “No, I don’t. If you have a document, you’d like to share I’d be happy to look at it.”

* AOC: “One other thing, it’s been stated multiple times in this hearing that the question is a reinstatement of a citizenship question. However, the last time a citizenship question was discussed on the census was in 1950. However, the question from 1950 compared to this proposed question is quite materially different.” It is not a reinstatement or restoration of the original question. The U.S. Census Act of 1974 requires that if the Secretary finds that such a change necessary, they must send a report to Congress on the proposed change when the question is proposed not when it is decided upon. Was that legally required report submitted to us?”

* Ross: “We filed the required report on March 31, 2017, and another required report on March 31, 2018.”

* AOC: “So what we don’t have is the required report to Congress, and while there’s all this debate about whether or not the citizenship question should or should not be included, the question I have is why are we violating the law to include any question in the 2020 census?”

* Ross: [“She’s out of time.”]( *([…hmmm…](*

* Cummings: [“Would you please answer the question?”](

* Ross: “I don’t have any need to respond, sir.”

* Cummings: “You don’t have a need to respond?”

* Ross: “I have no need to respond.”

* Cummings: “Could you answer that question please?”

* Ross: “Could you repeat the question please?”

* AOC: “We are now in violation of U.S. Census Act of 1974, which requires you to submit a specific report to Congress ahead of any changes you find necessary. This question is not a reinstatement of the 1950 question, it’s a change, which means that change requires you to send a report to us while the question is proposed not before it is decided or settled. So, my question is why are we violating the law to include this question in the 2020 census?”

* Meadows: “Point of order, the gentlewoman is talking about a statute that’s been violated. There’s been no enunciation what that statute is. I don’t even know what she’s talking about.”

* AOC: “I’d be happy to provide it.”

* Cummings: “I think she laid it out pretty nicely.”

* Meadows: “In previous testimony they said they submitted the reports.”

* AOC: “But the law states that they must submit 3 reports, they submitted the first 2 but not the 3rd that is required to Congress.”

* Cummings: “Mr. Ross, I see your attorneys back there squirming around telling you all sorts of stuff, maybe they can help you with this question.”

* Ross: “I’ve been told by counsel that we’ve complied with all the regulations.”

* Cummings: “Can you give me that in writing? That you’ve complied with the law.”

* AOC: “Mr. Chair, I’d just like to note that according to our committee staff there is not compliance with the law.”

* Cummings: “Well he said he did and he has sworn to given me a written statement that he did. And I’m looking forward to that statement. Counsel”

* Ross:

**(D) RASKIN:**

* “Point of order.” What is this confidentiality privilege that’s being invoked all the time? If it’s not an executive privilege how is this a rule of the committee?”

* Cummings: Calls for Ross to provide reason for his invocation of the privilege from his “baseball team of lawyers behind him.”

* Raskin: “All I’m asking for, is some clarification from the Chair or the legal counsel present as to how they transmit a private statement of confidentiality between 2 persons as a privilege against testimony before the U.S. Congress. Because I’m not aware of any case that stands for that principal. And I’m afraid we will go down a very dark road if we allow anyone to say, “I’d love to tell you but it’s confidential.”

* Cummings: “My understanding is it’s not a privilege, but maybe you all have some new law that was just established in the last 3 minutes. And I’d like to see it.”


* Pressley: “What did you discuss with the AG in Sept?”

* Ross: Invokes confidentiality again.

* Pressley: Did you ask the AG to send you an email about the citizenship question.

* Ross: Invokes confidentiality again.

* Pressley: “Was it your testimony earlier that Trump’s budget was put together without your input? And you have not read it?”

* Pressley: “Confidential does not mean privileged.”


* “The democrats don’t want to know how many people are citizens in the U.S.”


* Cummings: “You had asked me to limit the scope of today’s hearing and in return I asked you to answer all of our questions. “I explicitly wrote to you in my letter [before this hearing], that the Supreme Court does not recognize your claim that you can withhold documents from Congress based on the argument that there is separate ongoing litigation. But today when I heard your testimony, I gotta say I felt like you were trying to [pull a fast one on us](, I gotta be honest with you man. You went back to the same argument about ongoing litigation. I was a little disappointed. Refusing to answer questions about discussions with AG Sessions… Let me be perfectly clear, this committee does not recognize your argument that you can withhold documents or testimony from Congress based on other litigation that is not a valid basis to withhold from the US Congress. Today, Representative Raskin provided you with a legal citation today, he is a distinguished law professor particularly in the area of constitutional law, he also provided extensive precedent from both Republican and Democratic Chairman of this committee who conducted numerous investigations with ongoing outside litigation.”

* Raskin:

* Cummings: “So here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to give you until Tuesday and that should give you enough time to talk with your lawyers and provide all the documents this committee has requested. You have repeatedly stated that you will, but that could take forever. I don’t have forever. Neither do you. Nor do the American people. If you don’t agree with this then you will be forcing us to issue a subpoena. I don’t want to do that. I’ve been very careful with subpoenas.”

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2 thoughts on “Excerpts of Wilbur Ross’ Testimony Before House Oversight Committee on Citizenship Question and Related Matters | Wilbur Ross issued a legal citation to comply by Tuesday and deliver documents and testimony which he has refused or be subpoenaed + other details

  1. ###Please keep all comments [serious] and on topic according to rule #2. Non-serious comments can be made under this stickied comment, or after the 10/5 requirement.


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  2. I have to say, AOC is my #1 pick in the top 5 again. My Cohen top 5 were:

    * AOC

    * KHANNA


    * GOMEZ


    My Wilbur Ross top 5 are:

    * AOC


    * RASKIN

    * GOMEZ


    The democrat offices need to collaborate on how to more effectively ask questions and handle difficult witnesses like these 5 have. There is a clearly perceptible difference between those that cleverly maneuver and articulate and those that don’t.

    I’ll try to find the single clips from these 5 and include them up top. There really needs to be a movement of effective questioning. Knowing how to use the short 5 minutes effectively especially when you have a stonewalling and excruciatingly slow speaking witness.

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