Hansi Lo Wang for NPR:
A few months after he started leading the Commerce Department, Secretary Wilbur Ross became impatient. As a powerful decider for the U.S. census, he had a keen interest in adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census as soon as possible.
“I am mystified why nothing [has] been done in response to my months old request that we include the citizenship question. Why not?” he wrote in a May 2017 email to two Commerce Department officials.
The email was among the more than 2,400 pages of internal documents the Trump administration filed in federal courts Monday as part of the lawsuits against Ross’ addition of a controversial citizenship question to the 2020 census….
In response to Ross’ frustrations with delays in adding a citizenship question, the director of the Commerce Department’s Office of Policy and Strategic Planning, Earl Comstock, assured Ross in a May 2017 email: “On the citizenship question we will get that in place.”
Comstock suggested using the Justice Department as a means for their goal. “We need to work with [the Justice Department] to get them to request that citizenship be added back as a census question,” he wrote in the same email. “I will arrange a meeting with [Justice Department] staff this week to discuss.”…
In an email to Ross’ chief of staff, Wendy Teramoto, the acting head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division, John Gore, appears to refer to the citizenship question request as “a DOJ-DOC issue.” A few months ago, Gore represented the Justice Department during a House hearing on the citizenship question, when he dodged many inquiries from lawmakers by citing the DOJ’s role in representing the Trump administration in ongoing lawsuits about the question.
According to subsequent emails from September, Gore connected Ross’ staff with one of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ advisers, Danielle Cutrona, who wrote to Teramoto, “From what John told me, it sounds like we can do whatever you all need us to do.”