Trump expected to back down from census fight, pursue citizenship data another way
President Donald Trump is expected to announce later Thursday he is backing down from his effort to include a citizenship question on the 2020 census, and will instead take executive action that instructs the Commerce Department to obtain an estimate of U.S. citizenship through other means, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter.
The expected announcement would bring to a close weeks of escalating confusion within the government over his demands that the controversial question be included in the census despite a Supreme Court order that had blocked the move. The White House declined to comment about what exactly the president plans to announce.
As recently as Thursday morning, administration officials had been repeatedly suggested the president would take executive action calling for the question be added to the census. It was not immediately clear when and why the final decision was made not to move forward with that plan.
Attorney General William Barr, who was expected to attend the announcement, will now have to determine a path forward for three separate ongoing court cases the administration is fighting in Maryland, California and New York over the administration’s efforts to add the question to the census.
The Department of Justice declined to comment to ABC News.
The expected announcement follows the government’s acknowledgement in court last week that census forms continued to be printed without the question, in compliance with the Supreme Court’s order last month.
President Donald Trump is expected to announce Thursday that he is backing down from his effort to include a citizenship question in the 2020 census and will instead direct the Commerce Department to acquire the data by other means, an administration source told NBC News.
“It should come as no surprise to anybody the president wants to know who’s in this country legally and lawfully, and he’s going to do everything within his legal authority to make sure that information is known because the American people have a right to know,” another official said.
Trump tweeted that he will hold a news conference in the afternoon to discuss his efforts related to adding the question to the census.
“The White House will be hosting a very big and very important Social Media Summit today,” Trump tweeted earlier Thursday. “Would I have become President without Social Media? Yes (probably)! At its conclusion, we will all go to the beautiful Rose Garden for a News Conference on the Census and Citizenship.”
Last week, Trump told reporters on the White House South Lawn when asked if he would issue an executive order to include the question on the census: “We’re thinking about doing that.”
“It’s one of the ways,” he added. “We have four or five ways we can do it. It’s one of the ways and we’re thinking about doing it very seriously.”
ABC News first reported Trump’s expected announcement. The news conference planned for Thursday comes as two federal judges refused to let the Department of Justice withdraw lawyers from a lawsuit over the Trump administration’s plans to put the citizenship question on the 2020 census form.
The administration is currently printing census forms without the question after the Supreme Court ruled late last month that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross did not provide an adequate reason for why the question was necessary.
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