Cummings requests interview with Census official over new allegations on citizenship question

Cummings requests interview with Census official over new allegations on citizenship question
© Aaron Schwartz

House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsDHS chief to Pelosi: Emergency border funding 'has already had an impact' Cummings tears into DHS chief for conditions at migrant border facilities EXCLUSIVE: Career officials rebut claims of White House interference in security clearance process MORE (D-Md.) is requesting that a Census Bureau official interview with his committee after it was revealed that she was in touch with a GOP redistricting strategist about a possible citizenship question.

Cummings, in a letter Tuesday to Census Bureau chief of staff Christa Jones, requested that she hand over documents on any communications she had about a potential census citizenship question with a number of Trump officials and advisers, as well as the late Republican strategist Thomas Hofeller.

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The chairman sent the letter after advocacy groups said in a court filing Friday that Jones had been in contact with Hofeller in 2015 about potentially adding a citizenship question to the census.

The documents allege that Jones, a career staffer at the Census Bureau, used her personal email to contact Hofeller.

The groups shared documents that show Jones emailed Hofeller, who died last year, a link to a federal register notice for public comment on potential 2020 census content. And she emailed Hofeller the next day, writing, “This can also be an opportunity to mention citizenship as well.”

Cummings wrote Tuesday that Jones’s use of a personal email account to contact Hofeller “raises serious concerns and may be in violation of the Federal Records Act.”

The chairman also requested that Jones appear before the Oversight Committee on July 8 for a transcribed interview about the Trump administration’s efforts to add a citizenship question to the census.

Cummings also sent letters to Mark Neuman, who served as an adviser on the census, and to the Trump transition team for records on conversations about the citizenship question.

The Hill has reached out to the Census Bureau and the Commerce Department for comment.

The letters were released as a federal judge in Maryland is holding a hearing on the new evidence filed about Jones’s contacts with Hofeller and whether he should reconsider allegations of discrimination surrounding the question’s addition to the census.

The Justice Department has pushed back against the allegations that the newly uncovered emails between Jones and Hofeller show that officials had a “discriminatory purpose” in adding the citizenship question, labeling it a “bizarre claim” in a court filing on Tuesday.

The Oversight and Reform Committee voted last week, largely along party lines, to hold Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrHouse gears up for Mueller testimony History in the House: Congress weathers unprecedented week Court filings show Trump, Cohen contacts amid hush money payments MORE and Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossHistory in the House: Congress weathers unprecedented week The Hill's 12:30 Report: 'Send her back' chants stun Washington The Hill's Morning Report - Trump seizes House impeachment vote to rally GOP MORE in contempt for failing to comply with congressional subpoenas on the citizenship question.

Both agencies have claimed they were cooperating with the document requests. President TrumpDonald John TrumpCould Donald Trump and Boris Johnson be this generation's Reagan-Thatcher? Merkel backs Democratic congresswomen over Trump How China's currency manipulation cheats America on trade MORE asserted executive privilege over the subpoenaed documents just hours ahead of the contempt votes.

Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanDOJ, Commerce slam House Dems contempt vote as 'political stunt' White House blasts 'shameful and cynical' Barr, Ross contempt vote House votes to hold Trump Cabinet members Barr, Ross in contempt MORE (R-Ohio), the ranking member of the Oversight and Reform Committee, earlier Tuesday released segments of transcribed committee interviews with several current and former Trump officials on the citizenship question, including Kris Kobach (R), the former Kansas secretary of state and head of President Trump's now-defunct voter fraud commission.

Those officials said they were never in touch with Hofeller about a census citizenship question, according to the partial transcripts released by Jordan.