In a tweet Wednesday, President Donald Trump denied earlier reports that his administration had given up on its attempts to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census, despite reports to the contrary from members of his own administration.
What's the background?
Since March 2018, the Trump administration has been trying to add a question on the 2020 Census that asks respondents to indicate whether or not they are American citizens. This decision was quickly met by lawsuits, and a legal battle over this question has continued ever since.
On June 27, the Supreme Court ruled that the addition of such a question on the census was constitutional, but left it to the lower courts to determine if the administration's reasons for adding the question were legitimate. Because of the time that it takes to develop the census itself, this further delay made it unlikely that the question could be added in time.
On Tuesday, the Department of Justice sent an email telling the groups that had been fighting in court to prevent the question from being added that "the decision has been made to print the 2020 Decennial Census questionnaire without a citizenship question."
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross confirmed this in a statement to Fox News, saying, "The Census Bureau has started the process of printing the decennial questionnaires without the question. My focus, and that of the Bureau and the entire Department is to conduct a complete and accurate census."
In a tweet Tuesday, Trump called it a "very sad time for America when the Supreme Court of the United States won't allow a question of 'Is this person a Citizen of the United States?' to be asked on the #2020 Census!" He added that he had "asked the Department of Commerce and the Department of Justice to do whatever is necessary to bring this most vital of questions, and this very important case, to a successful conclusion."
What did Trump say now?
In a separate tweet on Wednesday, Trump wrote, "The News Reports about the Department of Commerce dropping its quest to put the Citizenship Question on the Census is incorrect or, to state it differently, FAKE!"
He added, "We are absolutely moving forward, as we must, because of the importance of the answer to this question."