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Trump claims executive privilege to thwart Congress probe on census citizenship question


President Donald Trump walks away after speaking to reporters before departing for a trip to Iowa, on the South Lawn of White House on Tuesday in Washington. (Evan Vucci/AP)

President Trump on Wednesday asserted executive privilege over documents sought by Congress in an investigation into plans to add a citizenship question to the upcoming census, which could lead to sharply lower count of immigrants and Latinos.

Attorney General William Barr made the claim in a letter to Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland) as his committee began considering holding both Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt for refusing to cough up the documents.

Democrats believe Trump and the Republicans want to add the question to discourage immigrants and Latinos from participating in the crucial head count, which would in turn lead to Democratic-leaning states and districts being undercounted in national and state redistricting.

“This begs the question: what is being hidden?” Cummings said.

Ross claims that the question was added to help better enforce provisions of the Voting Rights Act.

The politically charged drama took a twist when notes from a key GOP redistricting consultant revealed that the actual goal was to enhance the voting power of whites and Republicans.

Trump’s refusal to hand over the documents is the latest standoff in his “refuse all subpoenas” campaign to stonewall Congressional probes of everything from obstruction of justice in the Russia probe to the president’s taxes and business practices.