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tv   2020 Census Progress Report  CSPAN  May 19, 2018 12:17am-2:08am EDT

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>> sunday night on "after word words": >> that is one of the jobs of being old is passing the torch and taking what you know and what you've accomplished or want done and passing it on to younger hands. >> watch "after words" for the night and i'm p.m. eastern on c-span2's book tv. >> at a house hearing on the 2020 census acting internal general john gore talked about the proposal to add a citizenship question to the form and its potential for affecting the accuracy of the senses. congressman trey gowdy chairs the house oversight committee and this is just under two hou
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hours. >> the presiding member is authorized to clear recess at any time. this is a continuation oft the hearing we began last week for reasons that still confound me. today's witness was not here last week and i think it would've been more convenient for you and i know it would've been more convenient for the members but i don't run the department. for whatever reason you weren't here last weekai in your here ts week and with that i'm going to have to administer an oathd. because that is what we do for all witnesses. if you would please stand and raise your right hand prayed solemnly swear to tell the testimony you're about to give will be the truth, nothing but the truth, so help you god. for the record reflect the witness has answered in the affirmative. with that we are pleased to introduce today's witness, mr. john gore, acting assistant attorney general for the civil rights division of the united
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states department of justice. will recognize the five-minute opening statement. >> good morning. the department of justice recognizes this committee's important oversight role in on behalf of the department i thank you for allowing me to appear today. the committee originally invited me to appear last week on may 8 as ara parent part of a panel wh four other government witnesses for the department of congress and the census bureau.s i accepted that invitation but in the days leading up to lastol week's hearing the committee informed the department that the committee had added a nongovernment witness to the panel. it is long-standing department of justice policy and practice to decline participation in committee hearing panel to include a nongovernment witness. particularly when the department is involved in litigation regarding the subject matter of the hearing. courting the before last week's hearing the department reached out to the committee and offered several accommodations that would have allowed me to provide testimony last week but those
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combinations included moving the nongovernment witness to several panel, allowing me to submit written testimony and written responses to questions for the record or postponing the hearing. the committee denied those accommodations and the assistant attorney general for legislative affairs in consultation with private leadership made the decision on behalf of the department i would not appear last week's hearing. after further consultation with the committee thiseh week the department has decided that i would appear voluntarily today without any nongovernment witnesses without the committee issuing a subpoena. the department of justice is resolutely committed to the full, robust and evenhanded enforcement of the civil rightsu laws.
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the department's mission is to ensure that all americans have a full, equal right to vote regardless of race, color, language or military service. we are fulfilling that mission all across the country. since january 2017, the department of justice has participated as a party and three cases under section two om the voting rights act and we have resolved three other cases under theac national voter registration act. those three resolutions ensure that eligible people will be able to register to vote and remain registered. the department has participated in amicus and free voting rights cases including another section two case and the case seeking to protect the voting rights of members of a language minority group in one of america's largest cities. the department has continued our election monitoring programs and outreach enforcement efforts under section 203 oftm the votig rights act protect the rights of which minorities. the department is also zealously protecting the voting rights of our brave men and women in uniform and other overseas citizens with the uniformed absentee voting act. in 2017 and 2018, the department assisted several states and achieving compliance with their special elections.
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in february of this year the department filed a result of voting rights case under [inaudible] involving the state of arizona. the department is gearing up for the 2018 elections, as well. we are working day in and day out to ensure that those elections are conducted in accordance with federal law requirements. in furtherance of the department's ongoing commitment to the fair, full and evenhanded enforcement of voting laws on december 12, 2017 the department sent a letter formally requesting the census bureau reinstate onto the 2020 sentence questionnaire question regarding citizenship. the question previously appeared on the short form of the census in the long form and currently appears census bureau american community survey. the department's letter explains inaccurate citizenship data is crucial to the apartments enforcement of section two of the voting rights act and support protections against racial dissemination and voting and to fully enforce those requirements
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r the department needs reliable citizen voting population and localities this block were voting is suspected. since the department's amended his letter for lawsuits have been filed channeling the department of congress' decision to reinstate the citizenship question under the census questionnaire. the justice department is defending those lawsuits. in deference to the court charged with adjudicating litigation involving the united states department long-standing policy and practice is to decline to make statements regarding the litigation outside of court. the department accordingly testimony today.
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as i said at the outset the department texas committee's oversight rule seriously and our goal is to be as responsive to the committee as possible. in light of the pending litigation the potential effect of any public limits might have an ongoing court cases and the department litigation constraints i'm unable to make any statements today beyond those in the department's letter and publicly available information. the department thanks the committee for its understanding of these constraints. thank you. >> the gentleman from wisconsin is recognized.ur >> i will give you a few questions here. what data does the civil rights division receive in the census bureau? >> the data we receive from the census bureau, congressman, there are two different forms of data and we don't receive any individual responses to the census questionnaires whether that's the [inaudible] questionnaire or the acs questionnaire. we receive statistical data compiled individual answers into statistics for geographic areas. >> give me an example. >> sure, for example in our section to work we need information at the census block level and at the smallest unit of geography that the center collects data on.
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the census bureau's says how many people live in this block in what their race is which is important for section two of the voting rights act in the acs data provides estimates of citizenship rates but not at the census block level at either the block retractable. >> see have to know whatho is the amount of people are illegal or legal, correct? >> for our purposes whats is important to know is racial data and citizenship data at the enblock level. currently we don't receive census sufficient data at the block level that has to be extrapolated from acs estimates which are only available for larger geographic areas. >> give me an example of the situation and why that matters. >> the easiest way b to think about it is the census block is the fundamental unit of the
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district and -- >> how big is a census block? >> it does vary greatly. think of a a city block or suburban block in a population a census block can vary. >> townhouses. >> could be or a single apartment building. we have to collect a number of symptoms blocks to form a district. the sub blocks information gets aggregated up to the district level after you know how many people areor in the district for one purpose and one vote. it's how you know the racial composition of the district for voting right reasons as well so the citizenship data is crucial because many voting rights you need to know citizenship rates to understand whether the district is performing for particular minority group. >> i'm trying to think of how that would come into play. >> there 23 adults and five of them are illegal and i don't like i hate the idea of labeling people by race because i think
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there are other ways to label peopleit but i think what we are obsessed with here and let's say to those 23 people six people are minority of which two are the illegals and for our citizens and what do we do with this data and how that come into play? >> sure. thank you for your question. what we do with that data is analyzed the district to determine whether it complies with the section of the voting rights act or is it a violation in the geographic area. >> how would that -- >> section two requires that it prohibits what is called voter dilution so in certain circumstances section two requires that we redistrict to redraw districts that have a minority within a majority to elect its candidate of choice.
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once you put together the census block interrogated a census block information on the district level you know whether you have a section to district or section two problem because it may be a map has put them in a group into two district or edherwise manipulated district lines that violate section -- >> i know you didn't draft the law but isn't there an assumption there, a little bit of assumption, that people when they go to the polls rather than being -- whether intelligent people are voting on people's are candidates, opinions on transportation or education or taxation or whatever the people are expected to vote for people by race? >> i don't believe that's an assumption. one of the fundamental requirements is to show that there's racially polarized voting and that does not exist everywhere in the country but where does exist section two can be triggered and racially 2 polarized voting says that the racial group of over the same
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candidate. >> that's an inappropriate assumption and maybe we should look at the loss of time because i would hope that there areth americans who go to the polls and vote for someone of not just their same racial background but you. >> gentleman yields back. >> mr. gore, i read your written testimony and he seemed to be saying that you will not answer congress questions. certain questions. let me read exactly what you said. i will be quote, unable to make any statements today beyond those in the department publicly available information. you claim you cannot answer our questions because the government is being sued. mr. gore, the government gets sued all the time don't you agree? >> i would agree. >> are you really suggesting that this committee jurisdiction
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ceases to exist because you happen to be involved in litigation with another party? >> congressman, what i'm here to say today and thank you for your question by the way, the department does take very seriously this committee's oversight role but it's a long-standing policy and practice of the apartment not to comment on litigation outside of court. >> gore, the state of california has sued the government as has the state of new york you don't tell california it has to stand down because new yorkt. sued it. they are both independent entities and so are you. mr. gore, congress is an independent branch of government and independent branch and we have a job to do. ... attorneys might make or abot work product they are developing
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in those court cases. we are investigating the underlying facts. how and why know why you and the political appointee at the justice department come to ask the census bureau to add a new untested citizenship question? that is our job under the constitution. that is why we want yout here. your job is to answer our questions. so let me ask you this. please tell us what w your specific role was in the entire process and how the decision was made at the department to send this letter with a specific requests and tell us who else in the department that you
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indicated with throughout the process. >> congressman i appreciate the question as i said before the department recognizes and acknowledges this committee's oversight role. the department of justice is an independentex executive branch f government. we have an independent constitutional obligation to take care or the laws of this country that are faithfully executed but the laws are faithfully executed in a fair and even-handed robust manner across the as far as facilitating that mandate department of justice has long-standing decision decision-making in order to facilitate robust open discussion of decisions before they are made so that people can express their viewpoints so that decision-makers can make the best possible decisions they cay make. that's similar to the process the congress goes through a members of its staff. questions about decision-making process and internal deliberations at the department of justice and i'm not in a
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position to answer those questions today. >> i only have a little bit of time. mr. gore a major decision like this must have gone to the attorney general. did you or anyone else speak directly with the attorney general about this idea and if so what was the substance of your discussion with them? as ingressman cummings said the department of justice has an important role to play and we have an independent role to make sure a the laws are faithfully conducted. >> i has to did you talk to your boss? >> congressman are not going to talk about any internal conversations. >> whoa, whoa you were going to tell me that you can answer question as to whether you talk to your boss? >> what i'm telling you congressman as i'm here to talk about the department's letter and its public decision in the letter sent to the department of commerce but i'm happy to
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discuss any public information regarding that they did not in the position to discuss today anything that may or may not happen. >> you must have consulted with the head of the voting rights just as brutal as the substance of that discussion? and congressman we facilitate the open and robust conversations at the department. >> we don't have time. just say yes or no. >> what is the question congressman? >> did anyone at the department of justice ever raise concerns internally about going forward with the plan?n? >> congressman. >> is that the same answer? okay. did you talk to anyone outside of government about this idea? for example did you talk to cold war and if so what were those decisions? >> congressman. >> did you talk to him about this?
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>> to who? >> kris kobach. >> now. >> mr. gore there's a difference between investigating the facts facts of an incident in investigating how the justice department led to litigate thoso facts in court. we are only asking about the first. will you or will you not answer these questions in full? >> congressman i stand by my answer. >> one last thing mr. chairman with your indulgence. you say you cannot answer questions because you are worried about the statement basically. is that what you - are saying? >> that is part of the concern. >> just tell us the truth. you have that obligation every time you are here before any judge you have that obligation rightri now, right here and you are not going to answer. is that right? >> i'm answering truthfully congressmen. the department's long-standing
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practice. >> the gentleman from alabama is recognized. you mr. chairman. one of my concerns about this whole issue of how we count the census and have the distinction the twain counting people who preside in the area and our citizens i think is very important in the context. after the census were anticipating a number of states are going to lose representatives. illinois will very likely lose multiple representatives of michigan ohio new york slovenia rhode island alabama and possibly minnesota. in the context of what we are trying to to do with the census obviously we have got to count everybody. we need m to know how many peope live within our borders but in the context of apportionment it
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seems to me it would be extremely important to know those who reside in our borders that are citizens. can you comment on that? >> thank you for your question congressman. the very important question one -- question in a very important issue. our letter speaks to our enforcement activities under section to the voting rights act and not the separate question of how separate seats are apportioned under the constitution.m >> with that in mind and just trying to think about this in the context of what we intended with the constitution and howard government functions. we are a nation of sovereign states and we elect representatives to come to washington. doesn't impact the number of senators we have but it impacts a number of federal funding for state projects and i just want
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to know and i'm not sure that you can answer this. i think it's important to flesh this out in the context of all ofof this. it seems to me at its racist level it's unfair for one state or two or three states to have perhaps declare themselves sanctuary states which tends to attract people who are not citizens and thenpl have those people counted and an apportionment have more representatives than the state that has a population of almost all legal residents. in a sense of fairness it would seem that we need to know who are citizens and who aren't. >> you raise several important issues in your question congressman. i'm generally aware that the
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congress has a neck and statutes that account for various federal programs. i don't administer those programs and i don't know the specifics and the department hasn't taken a position on any of thosese programs. we understand why we think this data is preferable to have for voting rights act enforcement. i think you raise several good questions that the congress should elaborate on and an appropriate decision on its own. >> we take very seriously voting rights. no one eligible to vote should be denied their right to vote. i don't think we take it seriously enough when people cheat in the elections. when people who are not eligible to vote vote. there are a lot of jokes about that in certain parts of the
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country but i think we also look and they keep pounding on it because i think this is important. and in no way diminishes the potential for people who are not here legally or have the opportunity sometime down the road to become citizens. and legitimately to bey counted for but i think there's a fundamental problem that we need to addressss here with some stas that are giving sanctuary to people who are here illegally in violation of the federal law by the way in this be counted and have an impact on apportionment and then you have a number of states losing representation in congress for various reasons. alabama's not the state but we very likely will lose a representative. i just think mr. chairman that is a major problem that we need to address.
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thank you for being here mr. gore and for responding to my questions. i yelled back. >> the gentleman yields back. >> with the chairman entertainment and great? it's been asserted that the department of justice has a long-standing policy not to -- is an accurate recollection by this member that's when for example we conduct with the fast and furious investigation we receive many documents that delivered the process of the department of justice and is as a matter of fact the department of justice cooperated with the tprovision of such documents and there is a precedent. >> the gentleman's point is well taken and the ranking member and i were just discussing yesterday the relativism that sometimes exists and how we investigate matters and how we'd view
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privileges and how we handle ongoing litigation and ongoing inspector general investigations what i can tell my friend from virginia is while i'm happy to make the department of justice witness appear i cannot make that witness talk. you can get jack bauer to preside over this hearing but i can't make someone talk or produce documents. >> i appreciate that mr. chairman but i simply want to serve the record that the assertion that the long-standing policy that we have a major example of the previous administration the opposite of what has been asserted by the witness. >> my friend from virginia has put his finger on something that exists on both sides of the island has existed no matter which administration happens to be in power. i am not a fan of relativism no
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matter where it manifests itself the gentlelady from new york is recognized. >> thank you mr. chairman and i'd like to follow up on the questions of ranking member cummings. mr. gore your refusal not to the questions of ranking member cummings i find and i believe all of my colleagues find unacceptable. when we conduct parallel investigations all the time. every day we conduct them. if we have to shut down our investigation every time the federal agency got -- we might as well allll just resign and leave because investigations take place every single day and we are sued every single day. you are supposed to be here last week and with all due respect i do not understand why you refuse to be here.
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you are here today and at the very least you should answer questions and i would like to begin by referencing the what happened on may 16, just two days ago. tom brunel president trump's first choice to be the census director gave an interview and in that interview he said that the administration's position would add the citizenship question on politics. not on science, not on best practices but he said based on politics and i quote, they have made a political decision and they have every right to do that because they want the election end quote. now i find that appalling. he is basically admitting to politicizing the census and it
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contradicts the wording of our constitution that says every person should bee counted. so mr. gore i want to know everyone who had a role with you in this deliberation and this decision both inside the department ofus justice and outside of the department of justice. >> thank you for your question congressman maloney. the namesu give us today? >> let me reiterate what i said in my opening statement which is i accept an invitation to appear last week. it was only after the committee asked me to be a witness to the panel and denied the the accommodations at of the department of justice requested that the department made a decision that i would not appear last week. i'm happy to be here today to answer your questions. let me speak to the issue of mr. pernell for just a moment.
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i cannot speak for mr. purnell but he is not a member of the department of justice. he is not a government official this administration. he doesn't speak for the department of justice. he doesn't speak or the civil rights division and he doesn't speak for me. i don't know where mr. brunel is drawing that conclusion from. don't know what information you could possibly have as someone who is not involved in the decision. >> did you communicate with mr. brunel on this decision? >> no. >> did you or anyone else at the department communicate with the political organizations such as the rnc, the trump campaign or anyone else? who else did you consult on this decision? >> i can tell you congresswoman that i didn't consult any of those organizations. i can't speak for other people. they will have to speak for themselves. ine terms of the people i may or may not have spoken with within the department of justice or the executive branch might answer is
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the same.nd those conversations in deliberations and decision-making are things that i am not talking about today both as a matter of department practice and policy and because there is pending litigation. >> mr. gore are you exerting a constitutional privilege here today? >> i'm not authorized to assert -- . >> are you asserting executive -- . >> i've done nothing that would put me in any kind of criminal jeopardy for anything butin i would never do anything unlawful or illegal in the implication that i would as baseless. >> since you're not answering any questions i would like to thank the chairman for bringing him here today but i would like to quotet the chairman's statement that you can bring them here but you can't get them to answer any questions of mr. chairman i have a motion that with all due respect, i
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should have done this last week. i plan to formally offer a motion under the rules with my statement and seek a vote and this motion is in order. i would say the key issue for the meeting today is the trump administration's suddenn decisin to add a new citizenship question to the census, untested and at the last minute. this decision was made at the request of the justice department based on a letter in december claiming they needed to enforce the voting rights act. this data has never been needed since the act was passed in 1960 5. according to documents released through the freedom of information act this request made at the request of leadership working with john gore, our witness today and i ask unanimous consent to place these documents into the record.
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>> without a chechen. >> mr. gore as the acting head of the justice department's civil rights division for the trump administration, now you are that acting of the civil rights division but i don't know your record in this area. i do know for record where you defended republicans state redistricting plans including oner of racial gerrymandering ad also voter voter purging africa violated the national voter registration act and on may 8, chairman doubt -- chairman gowdy sent a letter inviting mr. gore to testify that he failed to appear last week and at that hearing i had a motion to subpoena mr. gore. instead thego chairman recessed the hearing, resumed its day and
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brought mr. gore in to answer our questions. the problem is mr. gore is not answering our questions. right now mr. gore is here voluntarily so he is not legally compelled to answer any of our questions. so i move that the committee's subpoena mr. gore right now, like we should have last week. we have a process mr. chairman. you may not want to issue the subpoena but our committee has authority under the rule to vote on a subpoena to compel mr. gore to answer our questions today. not tomorrow or not nextwe week, but today. mr. gore would be required to answer questions or assert constitutional privilege. if mr. gore continues to refuse to answer questions or asserts a privilege that is not valid this committee could hold him in contempt. they want to make one thing
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clear. we are not asking you one word about litigation. we are not asking about any of your briefs or anything that your department is involved in, your emotions, your attorneys are the work they are doing. we are asking about the underlying facts and we have every right to ask about them. it's our responsibility to ask about them and we have an independent responsibility to investigate and that is what we need to do today. these underlying facts, this congress and the american public deserve to know them and there is absolutely no legitimate reason for you to be silent about them. congress handles parallel investigations all the time and this is no different. this is a parallel
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investigation. our oversight responsibility does not cease to exist because someone sues the government. s the government gets sued multiple times every day. all of these reasons i hereby move to subpoena john m. gore the acting assistant attorney general of the civil rights division at the department of justice. >> i second the motion. >> i make this motion m pursuant toe clause two. we have spoken to the parliamentarians office and this motion is in order. i have spoken with them myself in a written copy of my motion in the subpoena is at the clerk's office and i asked that the chairman dispose right now so i can start getting answers to ourur questions. >> preserving a point of order. for what purposes the gentleman from alabama seek recognition? >> i nabbed the absence of the
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quorum. >> a quorum is not present in the motion did table a debate on theio underlying in advance. out of respect for the witness we should proceed with the hearing until that time. >> on a point of order mr. chair >> with the subpoena that is subject to the motion to table, with that include a request for documents as well as the subpoena for the person? >> i don't believe so. >> i have a copy of it here but it is blank. >> i think it is this subpoena for personall attendance but given the fact that it was not my motion i will go ahead and speak to it. >> thank you mr. chairman.
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tailback. m >> would the gentleman yield to me? with all due respect mr. chairman we have a number of members here. we would like to have her questions answered and to do delay this into table it in postponement makes absolute no sense. why are we asking questions when the witness has already told us he's not going to answer any of them? it seems like we should address the subpoena. it's ready to go. we talked about last week. it's not your fault that he is refusing to answer questions so it seems like it's very appropriate we should move forward with the subpoena so we can get answers to our questions. you know that the census is really the only, it's a requirement written right in the constitution that the executive branch must conducted every 10 years. it's a very serious i issue. it is the basis of our democracy, our representation.
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it makes the decision on the distribution of really over i would say $700 million in federal funds every year. a very criticalti issue. and we deserve to have our answers today and i respectfully request that the chairman move forward with the subpoena requests. i yieldld back. >> i will address the gentlelady and allowing her to proceed for 5 minutes. it's an a important point the quorum iss not present. out of respect for the witness i continue to ask whatever questions it is. without her will recognize the gentleman from virginia mr. connolly. >> thank you mr. chairman. i would say to my colleagues on
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the other side of the aisle while i respect their right to table a motion to subpoena, you will significantly cloud the legacy of this committee in asserting the principle of accountability and the separate but coley cole branch of government. i sat here and watched the fifth amendment rights of lois lerner be trampled on. i sat here andnd watched the sae committee, the attorney general of the united states because of their lack of cooperation. but apparently it's a whole different set of rules if it's administration that happens to be of your party. i just think that's a very sad day for this hearing.
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mr. gore lets stipulate with respect for the committee and let's just talk theoretically about process. i want to ask you questions about your process and i want to ask you questions about the topic you refuse to testify about. you indicated that it was a passionate commitment on the part of the department of justice to see that the laws we pass are vigorously enforced. is that correct?k >> yes congressman. thank you for your question. >> i will stipulate you are grateful for all of our questions. of course we have ant equal interest in the vigorous enforcement of those laws. >> yes. >> so, would it reason that we have a right as a co-equal branch of government to a inquire as to your efforts to vigorously enforce the law.
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is that not fair? >> yes. >> and is it your position that the department of justice unilaterally can decide when to cooperate with this co-equal branch ofec government in a constitutionalov exercise of its responsibilities? >> i don't believe i said that. >> i'm trying to extend the logic of your discretion about what you will and will not testify to. i'm probing that. in this case you argue in a novel way that litigation is a barrier. pending litigation on the matter precludes your ability to cooperate with us on our oversight of a particular law. is that not correct? >> would the sidibe is consistent with the department's policy. >> stipulates your session of
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consistency. i'm trying to understand the principle behind it. you are asserting that the department of justice makes rules with respect to your cooperation on the constitutional oversight role when it chooses and than one of those limitations is pending litigation. sped. >> pending litigation is daily limitation. for that reason the department does not talk about deliberations were privileged conversations that might happen an attorney client context. >> mr. gore we decide we don't agree with you. congress decides your assertion is an encroachment upon our ability to function constitutional in their oversight responsibility. what remedy do you understand that we have two dispute and to
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seek adjudication? >> congressman i have not studied the issue and i cannot take a position on that on behalf of the department of justice. >> it is our ability to issue a subpoena, is it not? we could subpoena you. >> i understand is the committee has subpoena s authority. .. congress. >> i've not studied the issue and so i don't have a view one way or the other what the penalties are that are either prodescribed buy law or appropriate and i can't edge gauge in a hypothetical. >> it's not hypothetical. it's a matter of law, mr. gore. >> certainly what penalty wood be appropriate in any particular case -- >> you could be held in contempt.
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you could be held in contempt of congress, do you not. >> be personally. >> yes. >> i'm not cur >> i'm not currently under a subpoena congressman. >> let's not play games. i said one of the remedies available to us is a subpoena and you agreed withh that and if you did not cooperate i began by saying we will have a hypotheticalal conversation because you don't want to talk about specifics. did not comply with the subpoena? speemac i believe that's correct i would be happy to talk about specifics or other publicly available information and i have answered several questions. >> you have barely answered anyor questions. >> i haven't had publicly available information. >> congress can decide what level of inquiry it wishes to
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pursue. you don't get to delineate that. you can decide whether to cooperate we decide if we compel your cooperation. your lack of cooperation is very concerning because it is stipulated in the constitution of the united states. i hope that we would agree that we need full cooperation to get a full picture of the country and to have that representation here in the congress allocation. for programs a lot is at stake do you not agree? >> i agree. >> so we do have legitimate cause to be concerned on a bipartisan basis how the census is conducted?
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and if any additions or subtractions could materially affect cooperation with cost and accuracy. is that fair? >> a gentleman time is expired. >> you may answer. >> to have important oversight and done in a cost-effective manner. >> the gentleman from virginia yields does the department of justice have a memorandum of understanding with the census bureau and department of commerce? >> that is a good question and i don't know the answer. >> could we get that?
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>> i don't know if it governs that relationship or another provision of law, i don't know. >> would you submit that to us once you find out? >> i cannot make that commitment today because i don't know what that is. >> are there other restrictions indicating what may or may not be used? >> there are. there are all kinds of restrictions how the census data is used in that message has been consistent throughout his decision to restate this? the 2020 census questionnaire by law congress enacted laws that prohibit disclosure of censusual responses to so we would not see that information and it would not used with immigration enforcement seating or any otherep department only data made d available is statistical data with larger geographic areas.
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those are kept confidential by the census bureau and every employee sees a nondisclosure agreement that is an important point i want you to repeat that everybody can hear that. any question regard to citizenship could be used by any law enforcement agency by the government? >> to my understanding it cannot be used in any enforcement proceeding or i believe the individual census bureau from the civil rights division is only statistical data and those are protected by law with confidentiality and protected by the act o of .ongress
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>> and with the immigration enforcement proceeding. >> knowing to reduce from voter fraud with a complete picture of those eligible voters if there are 300,000 citizens in the district we would know there is t a problem with you say there are more votes cast than eligible voters? >> if you have registered voters in the number of votes cast it would raise concern if the turnout in the geographic area but if you are and data collector? >> it sounds like it as you outline the hypothetical.
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>> would you say voter fraud has occurred, let me restate that does that ever tally the total number of votes cast compared to eligible voters of the same precinct? >> and for what those states are doing with the voter registration act and remove those voters who become ineligible so we look at that aggregate data. >> what about a census block group and a census block? can you explain that. >> it is the smallest unit of geography collected data it is the size of an urban or suburban block. the census block group is an aggregation is a group on
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average bb 79 but it could be fewer or more. then several more than that is called a trap. >> sometimes people are doubting thomas' so will responses to the 2020 census question with any other law enforcement agency. >> so with those individual responses with the immigration enforcement proceeding and that individual response and with the immigration status of millions and millions for those who are not citizens they came here for the
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american dream pursuing the american dream through work and school and family doesn't tell you about that immigration status because it has from disclosure. >> welcome mr. gore. does the department of justice expressed the need for citizenship data with the review? >> i'm not sure when that last conducted the content review. >> it was last spring but that is a no. the doj says with the voting rights act when was that?
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fifty-three years ago. was the citizenship question included 70 or 80 or 90 your 2010 census short form across the board? not the survey. >> not included in the short form but it was in the longform. >> the answer was no. sunday enactment of the voting rights act the doj has not deemeded critical on the short form the entirety of the census. so why did the doj make this request in w previous years and required a last-minute change. >> i was not at the department of justice in that prior time
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frames like cannot say why or why not. in that prior time frames like cannot say why or why not. >> that the census data ise more suitable but to be clear there is no dispute the department of justice need citizen data to enforce section two but it explains why it would be better suited for that purpose it is easier to use. >> but the point is but not having that data did not undermine any lawsuit brought with the voting rights act? but to say that citizenship data at the block level so
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your argument is weak. does that mission be compromised if not added to the 2020t census? >> we have been making do with datan estimate and extrapolations down at the level. >> in you answer that question? is the mission compromised? i will reclaim my time so doj without that citizenship data yes. >> and for those past 53 years? >> that's not what i said.
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would they be able to enforce the voting rights act without this data? the answer is no because you have been doing in 53 years before this year i only have a minute left. then people don't have to answer that. i think that is a reasonable thing that the attorney general. >> but that is referring that the census bureau is incomplete. >> did stephen hillier contact
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the department of justice by adding citizenship question? >> with those deliberations that may have happened. >> but thankor you. >> the gentleman from michigan is recognize. >> so if the witness becomes a piƱata to make a political point but the importance of the census that people are comfortable enough to answer questions it'll feel double and privacy is protected. so when was last in the department of justice brought a case from unlawfully
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disclosingly information from privacy laws? so you don't recall cases? >> i don't know. >> what areha the penalties i haven't studied the issue i don't know those penalties off the top of my head. but could somebody fail to complete the census? >> i don't know. >> looking forward tons the 2020 census does the department of justiceme have plans. >> i cannot speak if there was
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one or not. >> but the census bureau does count but if that blank is left unintelligible so it still counts that information on the questionnaire. i ask again which is why repeated the question. i must admit i have left questions blank on thela census nobody knocked on my door. i didn't getet a letter to say why did you do a terrible thing? i appreciate you being here. >> will you yield? >> and the gentleman from massachusetts.
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>> mr. gore obviouslyug that spirit which we brought here the right of congress to make those inquiries into the executive branch to a constitution to the american people and hostile to the rights of the american people. united states the premium court has held the multiple cases that is encased in legitimate legislation not grind to a halt and with that litigation or a distinct
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proceeding.>> but and to what those rights protected by congress is there any basis of law that you have been instructed to prohibit you to cooperate in this hearing? >> i have cooperated and participated i just answered several questions i can speak to any questions about public information. >> so tell us that. repeat the questions that you dodged earlier.
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>> so add this question to the census. >> the letter that it represents the final decision and statement of position. and then with that open and robust conversation and that is a fair process at the department of justice. >> it comes from a member. >> certainly. >> so we are asking you don't just push it p off. somebody i with authority in the trump administration came up with this decision you are embarrassed because nobody wants to take credit. there has been nothing but odds asian ups vacation and we don't have the power to prosecute t. we have the power to ask questions.
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and the american people deserve those answers. >> the department of justice laid out his position clearly in the letter why it was requesting this information. >> it represents the view of the department. >> and to speak for him personally that this is made with appropriate stakeholders at the department that i am happy to talk about and confirm i don't think that is earth shattering. but yes it represents the letter of the department it was sent to the census bureau and department of commerce understand with information the secretary of commerce took a hard look to do an independent analysis to consider various options in
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the department of justice. >> we need the support of c the chair to get to the basis of this decision as the chairman you have sway under our system of rules on this committee i hope you would see clear to support this reasonable request on the part of the minority in this committee to support the issue of the subpoena. >> johnson manufactured gentleman from california. >> to admonish you for not being a for the previous hearing that was an error that led to go back to the last
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administration to show a level of disrespect from the department of justice and much of that continues today where in case after case not getting in a timely fashion information with the highest level of classification is often used as an excuse the highest level of classification is embarrassing. the lastrr attorney general before last actually claimed a privilege and turned out to be a text back and forth to his wife. i hope this is the last time we have to have two hearings to get one hearing. having said that questioning the court decision to find out for the purpose of civil rights compliance, how many people are eligible to vote in a particular block of a
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congressional district? along -- a longtime resident father several children arrested at a job more than a decade almost two decades it was a supervisor and was apprehended because he was undocumentedcu and falsified documents related to getting on the it is a sad adulation was here since 1989 when i try to do what i could for the family i went to the voter rolls and found him and his wife and one adult child that was born in the united states the wife is not a legal resident and had
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entered illegally 1991 he entered 1989 hamer both registered voters. it appears as though they never voted but in california without a doubt ten or hundreds of thousands of people who do not want too say no i don't want to be registered to vote if not for that consensus to operate in good faith to echo what they said earlier it is only used for the statistical purpose in aggregate and if not for that census question what we have the same situation in california with the registered voters and then it could be to
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a different outcome? >> first i already addressed that issue in my opening statement which is the explanation why i didn't appeario last week because nongovernment witness. was included on the panel. >> the committee has pushback with negotiations we went to have a second panel but it is not for you to say we will not show up if we don't get what wet want and even though they were in the government not the right level. i don't accept that as a former chair and i hope you take that back there are better ways to resolve that and with a very reasonable chairman debt -- that does not just show up. >> on the issue that you
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raised but i cannot speak specifically. >> for your remaining time california has no documentation whatsoever and then to show up and get a drivers license they do not have tohoet prove in any way a resident or a citizen with the default to be a registered voter. as a matter of fact if you show up at a poll you cannot be asked and if you tried to make you put it away but please continue how this would impact elections if you have tens of thousands of people registered that are not citizens but afraid to say so because it's not like this since this is not secret. >> if there are large numbers casting ballots at the polls yes that could have an effect on the outcome obviously there are plenty of examples that
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could turn on that difference. >> the gentlelady is recognized. >> thank you mr. chair. in the 11 months not having a permanent director considering placing a expert thomas burnell at the helm. he himself recently admitted that this census is being politicized and in an interview with science magazine he said and i quote they have made a political decision and they have every right to do that because they won the election. president trump has been caning -- campaigning on the
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addition of the citizenship question and has been asked by his campaign and i quote president trump has ordered the 2020 united states census to ask people living in america whether or not they are a citizen. but now the sanctuary state of california is suing him it's time to fight back. this seems to me like a political decision comes from the top and we have asked you and i will ask again, exactly who in leadership made this request? was it the attorney general sessions? who specifically wasn't? >> congresswoman as i said before i cannot get into the specifics of the deliberations decision-making that i can confirm the letter represents the -- position of the
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department and all decision-makers signed off including the attorney general so the premise of your question about mr. burnell i don't believe anybody had any conversations with him. i certainly haven't he is a private citizen he doesn't speak for the department of justice are not a member of the administration. i have no idea what he gets his information from or how he draws his conclusion to a he thinks is thee motivation for the request to add this question. >> it seems that you don't know where he gets his information and you also don't know where your information or guidance is coming from because based on yourhe statements and not answering the questions i don't know where it came from, i got a random letter so you are sitting here today to say i don't know how things happen i don't know who makes decisions it just happens like soup you
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throw it in there than all of a sudden we have soup. it does not appear you are next for witness can you help me with that? >> i haven't set i don't know. is that the department of justice by long-standing policy and practice does not discuss internal deliberations or decision-making and have said theci attorney general has signed off on the decision and beyond that the department physician is stated in the letter. to the campaign letter e-mail i have never seen that i have no communication withh the campaign so i cannot speak to that. >> will you confirmed today that the department of justice will follow the law? and to abide by the protections provided by title 13 and to comply against sharing those requirements?
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will you be on the record today under oath to say the department of justice will follow the law?? >> yes. >> so i will let you know that the american arab association in my community has stated that many of the members of the arab-american organization will refuse participation in the census primarily out of fear and suspicion that by answering the citizenship question they will be singled i am saying to the chair into the spotty someone has been misguided, is not good enough to make a decision to go forward when you know the consequences. you can say you don't know how you get here but now this is proposed it needs to be
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addressed we have tried repeatedly to make you understand that the constituents of this country with the department of justice works or you are here because of the taxpayers paying your salary si sir, you need to listen to the people and this question i will repeat again is not one serving the objectives are the outcomes that we need for a census count in our country and i yield back to the chair recognizes himself or question. if i understand your argument the answering of the question will help the department enforce the voting rights act? >> correct. >> how has the failure to ask this question in the past hamper that effort? >> thank you for your question. it is undisputed we need population data to enforce the voting rights act and at the
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block level we have been making do with estimates and other sources to extrapolate the citizenship free in a particular area and we already get racial data from the censusnf but we have to make an educated guess about the citizenship rate at the block level and having it on the census makes it easier for uso to use or that is the judgment of the census bureau. one case in the northern district of texas where the plaintiff wanted to rely slowly on the acs estimates to prove citizenship rate for the geographic area was too small for the estimate to be reliable so the court the case out to say this estimate data was a one-year estimate of
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fewer than 65000 people in the census bureau says that small size of a a population that it isn't reliable for one year estimates so that case was thrown out we would like to avoid that you would like to bring every voting rights act case that is our mandate and what we would like to do so dealing with smaller geographic areas and smaller numbers of people the estimates are not sufficiently reliable at least not in that case. >> that is why i foreshadowed my questions last week not trying to trick anybody but i do think it is relevant whether past litigation is impacted with that failure information you cited a case in texas but is there a case for this would have helped or any other deciding tribunal?
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>> i am not aware of any other case that was filed to make a difference but again the other rationale that defenses easier to use that already comes in the right formate the half don't have to write extrapolations and the same data set we just received all across the country that is the census data they already received to comply with the equal population requirements of the constitution. >> who gets to decide whether or question is legitimate to include on the census form? >> i believe the congress has left that decision to the secretary of commerce if i understand the statute correctl correctly. >> what is the standard of review? but that is a very good question at the heart of the litigation i don't know the
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answer i think the litigation will be about that question. >> as sec. ross wanted a question what is your favorite movie how would a court determinew whether or not that was appropriate? so what is the standard by which you judge the legitimacy inclusion or exclusion of a question? it is a very good question that are directed to the commerce department i'm not involved in the >> you are a lawyer familiar with the different standards of review whether or not it is abuse of discretion if you have to have a reasonable public interest or a compelling public interest. >> you are familiar with that. aam >> im but i don't how that intersects with this particular case in those matters of litigation that will all bee presented and it would be inappropriate for me to speculate or comment today
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since i am not the representative in that litigation. >> can you yield for a split second? >> i'm trying to figure out what a split second is but yes. o i am happy to if you can keep to that. >> just to follow-up as an answer to your question was citizenship data, he said the department of justice makes do with the data they are getting it answering my question he said they cannot enforce the voter rights act without that at the block level. it seems contradictory. >> i will see if i can help you out to the extent there is any ambiguity would you like an opportunity to synchronize your answer? i would like that
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opportunity thank you for raising that for me. when citizenship rates are the issue we need data at the census block level we are making do with the data from the acs it isn't at that level that we look at the extrapolations to make an expert on -- estimate. so we doe need that and yes we are making do with the currently available data for estimates whether acs data or something else. our letter lays out where the hard count is more appropriate because it is a hard count and it is simpler to use and the census bureau believes it would be more accurate. >> i will try to harmonize the different perspectives of our colleagues when something has been done for a while and not done it raises questions
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people want to know why the question was removed and when reinserted then how did the exclusion adversely affect you not giving you litigation advice would be crazy to takeiv it but practical advice to answert questions for congress that is a full song wondering we had the question then in another form so what is the impact that changing the manner in which it was collected and i guess the threshold question is do you have to assert it and help to enforce the voting rights act rooted or can you just do that because you felt like it? if the government's position is it helps us enforce the voting rights act it is helpful to pointpp specific instances where the failure to have that information may have hampered your efforts to enforce that. >> chairman i'm happy to provide a response to that.
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we made i a case why the data is more appropriate for enforcement of the voting rights act with the simplicity and greater accuracy than acs estimates with extrapolation i pointed to the case of the plaintiffs who could not prove their case because the estimate were toose unreliable as t to whether that is sufficient to warrant the census questionnaire that is what the courts are hashing out with litigation. >> before we fell i will let the ranking member ask a question thank you for both sides coming forward on an unexpected vote on a very busy morning and we will move to the vote. >> thank you very much. i just listened to the questions the chairman asked
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they are veryre good questions but it seems like it is based on the voting rights act but i want to have your opinion doj has not filed a single file single one during the trump administration attorney jeff sessions calls the intrusive doj has reversed its position in three voting rights cases on gerrymandering in texa texas, one pertaining to voter id and one voter purging all in favor of voterot suppression efforts u doj updated manual to remove two racial gerrymandering president trump falsely accused millions of voters of committing voter
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fraud and president trump established a commission in january to identify evidence to support the false claim and finally selected the chairman who was held in contempt last month for failing to inform the eligibility to register after the court blocked a law. why some of us may be skeptical when folks say they are doing this so that people like my mother who years ago could not vote or even today do you understand why we may be skeptical? >> i understand you're coming
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from if i might have a moment respond to your question because there are several things in your question i think are not accurate i like to correct those on behalf of the department so you and the entire committee in congress and american public understand what's going on. we have filed the voting rights action as i mentioned my opening statement in the state of arizona to protect voting rights of military voters and overseas citizens section two we have continued to participate in three section two cases since january 2017 those enforcement efforts are completely in line with the enforcement efforts of the obama administration. in its first four years in terms of the obama ministration filed one case under section two of the voting rights act early 2009 investigation was conducted under the bush administration filed no section two case 2010
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through 2012 it increase the #3 in the the second term in 2013 to file three cases but none in 2014 or 15 or 16 and one on its way out the door january 2017 we have continued to mitigate on behalf of the united states so that activity is in line with what the obama justice department did the six years it was in office and never filed a section two case and moreover it had the opportunity to do so because every state in the union was required to redistrict after the 2010 census so with gerrymandering that was a change adjusted by the prosecutors of the civil rights division because it is already assumed in another provision in a manual with the effort to simplify it of policy no change practice as he has explained
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publicly and too participate in the original gerrymandering case in april with the supreme court we have not changed our position there is one case the department change the position is currently pending before the united states of cream court the other two cases are out of texas and department did not change its position texas changed its voter id law tots address what was alleged in that case and had the statute to do so and that largely tracked district courts issued to the 2016 election 9 million texans voted with no suggestion or evidence brought to the court that resulted in any vote suppression. three weeks ago the court of appeals agreed it was sufficient to remedy the defects and overturned the
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decision also the redistricting case again it adopted a new plan united states and really doesn't take a position but the supreme court would argue that congressional district 35 is the appropriate district under the voting rights act i have not communicated with anyone i think i have met them once i appreciate we are coming from congressman help i can provide some facts to help you understand where we come from as we try our best in the department of justice with the civil rights division to carry out all the laws and enforcement to best of our ability will continue to do so that is our mission and our charge and retake her seriously that responsibility it is my honor to serve in this capacity with a hard working career professionals pitcher manuals back we will
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resume consideration to table the motion those in favor? all those opposed? >> i request a recorded vote. >> the court will call the bal ball -- the role t4 [roll call] [roll call]
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>> the clerk will report 22 yes and 15 no. >> it passes thanks to the members of both sides we will resume with the shunning of the witness until votes are called give me one second. the gentleman from illinois is recognized mac thank you mr. chairman. good morning many individual citizens as well as noncitizens including legal permanent residents are fearful about giving personal data to the government and the current political climate. these fears were escalated by the dojs request to include the citizenship? the 2020 census that is why it is so critical to remind
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individuals that title 13 protects the confidentiality of the census responses to prohibit the government from sharing the data withh other government agencies. will you confirm the department of justice will follow the law to abide by the protections accorded by title 13 to comply with the prohibition against sharing individual census response? absolutely i can confirm that i would like to reiterate what i said before which is retake our duty very seriously to enforce the law nobody should have fear w to respond to the questionnaire or the citizenshipp question first for the reason that you layout which the individual response are protected by law and cannot be disclosed but to reiteratepo whether someone is a citizen or not does not tell you about their immigration status millions of
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hard-working americans are not citizens but in the country legally. >> thank you do you affirm the department of justice has d no intention to use that data for any other purpose including sharing with federal law enforcement agencies or any other agencies? >> with respect to this data or any other date of the department of justice will abide by all legal requirements. >> are you saying there is a possibility you may share this data with other federal agencies? >> i'm saying i don't know exactly the parameters of the restrictions of the use but whatever they are the department of justice will abide by them that is my understanding it is not my responsibility to determine what happens with this data other than what is shared with me but on behalf of the department we will comply with requirements.
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>> can you conceive of a situation where maybe it's legal to share this with other agencies? mckay cannot conceive of that from the civil rights perspective where i work i don't know about the rest of the department and the law with the department of justice will follow the law. >> see you don't know what the law is with regard to sharing of the data? >> i do know there is prohibition with sharing i don't know how other entities within the department of justice deal with that issue i cannot speak on their behalf that on my behalf all entities will follow the law and we do not share that data with other governmentie agencies. >> i will shift to another issue is the doj aware of any study analysis or projectionit of how the inclusion of this
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question will affect the response rate? that is a great question if that really is a question for the i department of the census bureau since it is their province to decide which questions are included but my understanding that he took a hard look at the issue and found known. all evidence to suggest the question would be to a reduction of response rates based on the memo of decisions that he issued i cannot speak on his behalf. >> if evidence were brought to your attention the inclusion lowered the response rate, how would you process that evidence as a member of the doj? >> as a member of the department of justice, i believe whatever evidence was presented to the department of
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commerce was considered if that was brought to our attention we would take a look at it we are not the decision-maker whether or not they are included or not you think for saying you would take a look at it as the chief civil rights lawyer for the department ofer justice if that evidence would show a disparate impact how minorities were counted would you like whether or not a legal action would need to be taken. >> a time is expired but you may answer. >> i think we would take a look at enough legal action is warranted i cannot give you that hypothetical. >> the gentleman yields back and is recognized.te
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>> in fairness to my colleague i don't think he finishes line of questioning>> i healed my time. >> thank you i would like to pick up where i lefts off it is extremely important. in a republic democracy is in the sanctity of the vote the most important part of civil rights? we spent decades going from denying people the vote because of their gender or race to ensuring that all persons eligible are eligible if citizens. >> absolutely. we look at other the questions have you looked at the other draft questions? other than the first question which is how many people live in this house is there another question is as important to the republic as this one? >> that is of value judgment
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reasonable minds can disagree. >> constitutionally we all understand the census is required every ten years for only one purpose to find out how many people are here. i don't with this last week with the census people themselves isn't it true there is only one question that is constitutionally mandated and all others are based on our belief that knowing this will advance the greater good? peanut i think that's correct and i would point out other questions are g asked but the census remains a total of numeration there is a question about sex all races are counted and citizenship. >> you have a good question because for example we are if you are hispanic nobody objects to that apparently but it does go into
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mexican chicano puerto rican or cuban all the reasons to be yes or no and nobody objects to that but it is good to know but not essential for constitutional purposes. here is another one. relationship powers the person relatedti to you? father or mother or opposite sex unmarried, same-sex son or adopted son or stepson if you lookse all the things that might cause someone to say i will throw this in the trash or mail it back when asking somebody about to be honest their sexual relations are whichsk that particular question needs to are they all questions which could reduce
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the turnout from the basic turnout from how many people are in this house isn't that a risk withex every question. >> i do believe that is a risk if that plays out that is a question for the department of commerce but i think that's correct. the secretary of commerce is for incredible time personally with the under secretaries into this in has been working it for a long time but back to the initial question, no one seems to care if you want to find out if somebody is straight or gay that seems to be noncontroversial to a democratic friends yet asking them if they have a right to vote you can determine the maximum count in a precinct or a block to be a problem. why is it that what is at the
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core of the democracy is less important question and the question d quite frankly of gender preference? >> that is a very good question. travis lee can't answer but i have been wondering the same thing givenn the reaction to the request made and the decision the secretary made. >> i went to use the remaining time to make the history straight this questionbe was asked during fdr time and it is a historic question and in the community survey as we speak? . . . . speak.
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>> right. >> so the difference between having it in the main census and having in the community survey which my colleagues don't object to would seem to be a volume, correct? >> i guess, yes. >> so it's a greater number of people asked the question because i got the community survey and i will tell you a tells me on penalty of everything terrible happening in my life i must answer it. last question. if you're simply getting more people answering the same question that has been asked again and again in the community survey is in it that we simply get the ability to understand more clearly where and how many people should be able to be eligible to vote and receive services of that sort. >> gentlemen's time has expired but you may answer the question. >> yes. >> thank you. gentle lady from illinois is organized. >> the law governing the additional questions to the census is at the center of commerce must submit proposal text to congress three years before sentencing followed by the actual questions two years
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before census day. that law also states and i quote if the secretary find new circumstances exist which necessitate that the subject type information or questions contained in reports submitted be modified containing the secretary's determination of the subject types of information and questions posed be modified must be cemented congress with the secretary of commerce to not include a citizenship question in the subjects submitted to congress in april 2018 but they added it to your later -- under the law in order to that he must have encountered new circumstances necessitating that the subjects be modified. what are the new circumstances that necessitated this change? >> i appreciate the question. i don't work for the department of commerce or the census bureau and i can't speak on their behalf. >> zero no idea why this occurred? >> i believe based on publicly available information that the
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secretary of commerce to go to this in response to the doj request for the census block level citizenship data and beyond that i don't know what the thought process was because i don't work there or work on their behalf. >> for what i just quoted from the law do you think he was in his for you to do that or do you think he follow the law? >> i don't think it's appropriate for me to answer that question because the question is in litigation. >> the voting rights act has been in place since 1965 and so has the census. they do not change. you are saying that you don't know the new circumstances and did the department of justice cite any evidence of voting rights cases and secretary ross that would have necessitated the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 census? >> to be clear what i said was i
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don't know the circumstances or the thought process that went on in the apartment of congress for the census bureau and i believe i didn't say what i didn't know was going on in the department of justice letter but our letter laid out the reasons why we think hard count census data at the block level would be more appropriate for use in redistricting cases than the american community survey estimates and extrapolations down to the block level. it would be simply frosty use and a hard count and align in time with the data that maps and courts in the department of justice already use and the census bureau and congress had made a determination that it would be more accurate. beyond that that was the statement that we made in our letter and the department of commerce my understanding took a hard look at that and made that determination. >> in conclusion seems like the only circumstances that has changed since 2017 is who is sitting in the oval office and unfortunately that is not sufficient under the law to
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allow an untested question. i'll back. >> the gentle lady from new york is granted a unanimous request. >> i request a unanimous consent to place and record a statement from the asian-americans justice association. >> without objection. >> thank you. >> i believe all members have been able to have the questions answered to the extent you are able. the hearing will remain open for two weeks. if there is no for the business without objection the committee stands adjourned.
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