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Groups say U.S. census citizenship question was designed to influence elections

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Groups say U.S. census citizenship question was designed to influence elections

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The Trump administration concealed evidence that its proposal to add a question about citizenship to the 2020 U.S. census was intended to help Republicans draw favorable electoral maps, according to immigrant advocacy groups that sued the administration over the question last year.

An informational pamphlet is displayed at an event for community activists and local government leaders to mark the one-year-out launch of the 2020 Census efforts in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., April 1, 2019. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

In a filing in Manhattan federal court on Thursday, the groups said that the administration hid the fact during the course of the lawsuit that went to trial last year that Thomas Hofeller, a longtime Republican specialist on drawing electoral districts, played a “significant role” in planning the citizenship question.

The conservative-majority Supreme Court is due to issue a final ruling by the end of June on whether the question can be added in time for next year’s census.

The challengers notified the high court about the new documents in a letter filed at the court on Thursday afternoon. They did not ask the Supreme Court to take any specific action.

The plaintiffs, which include the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee and Make The Road New York, learned of Hofeller’s role after his files came to light in separate litigation in North Carolina in which Republican-drawn electoral districts are being challenged.

A Justice Department representative said the allegations were a “last-ditch effort to derail the Supreme Court’s consideration of this case.”

“The Department looks forward to responding in greater detail to these baseless accusations in its filing on Monday,” the person said.

Manhattan-based U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman blocked the question’s inclusion following the trial, but the Supreme Court appeared poised to overturn that ruling at April’s oral argument.

According to Thursday’s filing, Hofeller concluded in a 2015 study that asking census respondents whether they are U.S. citizens “would clearly be a disadvantage to the Democrats” and “advantageous to Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites” in redistricting.

Hofeller went on to ghostwrite a draft letter from the U.S. Department of Justice to the Department of Commerce, asking for a citizenship question on the grounds it would help enforce voting rights, according to the plaintiffs.

The plaintiffs, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, said that administration officials gave false testimony about the origin of the question during the lawsuit, and have asked Furman to consider imposing unspecified sanctions against them.

Furman has scheduled a hearing on the request for June 5.

Reuters reported in April that the Trump administration believed its citizenship question could help Republicans in elections by enabling states to draw electoral maps based only on citizen population, rather than total population.

Opponents have said a citizenship question would cause a sizeable undercount by deterring immigrant households and Latinos from filling out the census forms, out of fear the information would be shared with law enforcement. That would, they argue, cost Democratic-leaning areas electoral representation in Congress and federal aid, benefiting President Donald Trump’s fellow Republicans and Republican-leaning parts of the country.

Reporting by Brendan Pierson and Andrew Chung in New York; Additional reporting by Lawrence Hurley in Washington; Editing by Steve Orlofsky, Tom Brown and Lisa Shumaker

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Pelosi flexes muscle over party in impeachment debate, but ‘dam’ could collapse

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Pelosi flexes muscle over party in impeachment debate, but ‘dam’ could collapse

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has wielded her power to quash a faction of Democrats rallying for President Trump’s impeachment, but frustrated members within the party say the president is one misstep away from “that dam collapsing,” according to a Sunday report.

Since reassuming leadership over the house, Pelosi has thwarted her party’s liberal wing from going forward with impeachment proceedings, encouraging them to instead focus on other issues like health care.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., reflects on President Donald Trump's statement that he would accept assistance from a foreign power. 

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., reflects on President Donald Trump’s statement that he would accept assistance from a foreign power. 
(AP)

“I don’t think there’s anything more divisive we can do than to impeach a president of the United States, and so you have to handle it with great care,” Pelosi told CNN on Sunday. “It has to be about the truth and the facts to take you to whatever decision has to be there.”

Some lawmakers say their deference to Pelosi is out of respect for the speaker’s political expertise, and agree that impeachment would do more harm than good.

NANCY PELOSI TOLD DEMS SHE WANTS TO SEE TRUMP ‘IN PRISON’: REPORT

“She is the single smartest strategist that we’ve ever had…People are not wanting to second guess her because she’s been right on so many fronts,” Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., told the Washington Post.

But other Democratic lawmakers, like Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., admit they toe the party line out of fear.

“One, you want to be a team player and support the leader’s position, but secondly you’re worried about your own self and…what can happen if you don’t follow along,” Schrader told the paper.

Some argue that President Trump’s defiance of congressional investigators will eventually break the divide between moderate Democrats and its liberal wing.

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Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, D-Va., described Pelosi’s hold over Democrats as “fragile” because “we’re kind of one event, one piece of explosive testimony, one action by Trump away from that dam collapsing.”

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The Democrats’ pro-impeachment camp howled this week after Trump said in an interview with ABC that he’d be willing to listen if a foreign government had dirt on an opponent. Yet despite the familiar refrain of impeachment, Pelosi didn’t budge an inch on impeachment after Trump’s comments.

Fox News’ Chad Pergram contributed to this report.

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Trump asks Mulvaney to leave Oval Office for coughing during ABC interview

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Trump asks Mulvaney to leave Oval Office for coughing during ABC interview

President Trump was apparently so perturbed by his chief of staff coughing during an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos in the Oval Office last week, that he asked his staffer to leave the room, according to a transcript from the station.

Trump had been asked a question about his tax returns when someone off camera – identified as Mulvaney – reportedly begins coughing.

“I hope they get it, because it’s a fantastic financial statement,” Trump said Stephanopoulos amid apparent coughing before saying: “And let’s do that over, he’s coughing in the middle of my answer.”

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“I don’t like that, you know, I don’t like that,” Trump reportedly said of Mulvaney’s coughing. “If you’re going to couch, please leave the room. You just can’t, you just can’t cough. Boy oh boy.”

“Your chief of staff,” Stephanopoulos reportedly clarified.

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The interview, which was broadcast Sunday, proceeded with Trump saying although he wanted people to see his “phenomenal” financial statement, it’s “not up to me, it’s up to my lawyers.”

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Buttigieg says he won’t be first gay president, ‘almost certain’ we’ve had others

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Buttigieg says he won't be first gay president, 'almost certain' we've had others

Mayor Pete Buttigieg doesn’t believe he’ll be the first gay president if elected in 2020.

“I would imagine we’ve probably had excellent presidents who were gay — we just didn’t know which ones,” he told “Axios on HBO.”

“I mean, statistically, it’s almost certain.”

FILE: Democratic presidential candidate Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks at a grassroots event on Friday, June 14, 2019, in Alexandria, Va.

FILE: Democratic presidential candidate Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks at a grassroots event on Friday, June 14, 2019, in Alexandria, Va.
(AP)

Asked if he possibly knew which commander-in-chief was playing for the other team, the Democratic hopeful said: “My gaydar even doesn’t work that well in the present, let alone retroactively. But one can only assume that’s the case.”

BUTTIGIEG SAYS TRUMP USING JUSTICE DEPARTMENT AS ‘HIS OWN PERSONAL LAW FIRM’

Buttigieg — who is mayor of South Bend, Ind. — has been rising in the polls as of late. He would be the first openly gay presidential candidate, if nominated next next year.

The 37-year-old has been asked in the past about the possibility of there ever being a gay president, with BuzzFeed posing the question back in March.

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“My gaydar is not great to begin with and definitely doesn’t work over long stretches of time,” he repeated. “I think we’ll just have to let the historians figure that out.”

To read more from The New York Post, click here

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