The Justice Department on Tuesday warned of the move, and on Wednesday it came to pass. President Trump has exerted executive privilege over documents related to his administration's addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 census. The Hill reports those documents include drafts of a letter penned by the DOJ and delivered to Commerce officials directing the inclusion of the question. The DOJ informed the House Oversight Committee of the move via a letter from Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd, who cited the committee's planned vote on whether to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt for not offering up the subpoenaed documents. Boyd wrote that the "department was prepared to provide a significant number of additional documents responsive to the committee's April 2, 2019, subpoena."
"Unfortunately, rather than allowing the department to complete its document production, you have chosen to go forward with an unnecessary and premature contempt vote," Boyd continued, adding that the "protective assertion" of privilege will allow for a full review of the materials, which will allow Trump "to make a final decision whether to assert privilege." The Washington Post explains the DOJ's perspective: that "the privilege assertion undercuts the contempt finding, because it prevents the attorney general from turning over materials lawmakers had subpoenaed." ABC News reports Democrats argue the census question would unnerve immigrants and minorities and cause them to not respond, preventing an accurate count. The Guardian reports the contempt vote has now been postponed to later in the afternoon. (Read more executive privilege stories.)