Internal documents reveal that Trump spent years trying to add a citizenship question to the Census because it would allow him to rig the Electoral College.
The House Oversight Committee investigated Trump’s illegal push to add a citizenship question to the Census and found:
- Contrary to his testimony to Congress, congressional apportionment was central to Commerce Secretary Ross’s efforts to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. Documents obtained by the Committee show that Secretary Ross requested and received a detailed memorandum exploring the legality of adding a citizenship question to the census for purposes of apportionment, along with other potential rationales for adding a citizenship question.
- A secret, undated draft of Mr. Uthmeier’s legal memo warned that using a citizenship question for apportionment would likely violate the Constitution. The draft obtained by the Committee expressed skepticism about the legality of including a citizenship question, noting, “Over two hundred years of precedent, along with substantially convincing historical and textual arguments suggest that citizenship data likely cannot be used for purposes of apportioning representatives.”
- Commerce officials downplayed legal concerns and altered the memo to suggest the citizenship question could be used for apportionment. In later drafts of the Uthemeier memo, another political appointee, Earl Comstock, changed or removed language indicating that adding a citizenship question was likely unconstitutional. Officials also added language that emphasized the Secretary’s discretion when considering adding the citizenship question. The final memo reached essentially the opposite conclusion of the initial draft, asserting that “there is nothing illegal or unconstitutional about adding a citizenship question” and claiming, “there are bases for legal arguments that the Founding Fathers intended for the apportionment count to be based on legal inhabitants.”
- Trump Administration officials at the Department of Commerce, including Secretary Ross, secretly steered the Justice Department towards the pretextual rationale for adding the citizenship question. Mr. Uthmeier hand delivered his legal memo to DOJ, along with a hand-written note highlighting the pretext of using a citizenship question to enforce the Voting Rights Act (VRA). The note stated that Secretary Ross “thinks DOJ would have a legitimate use of data for VRA purposes.”
Each state gets one electoral college vote for each US Senator and one for each member of the US House in its delegation. The Trump administration was trying to take away House seats from Democratic-leaning states and add them to Republican-leaning states. The change would have also rigged the Electoral College to give Republican-leaning states more votes.
The point of the citizenship question was to read the House and the Electoral College. Trump’s efforts to steal the 2020 election started years before Election Day.
The plot began with the Census question and continued through the 1/6 attack on the Capitol.
Mr. Easley is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association