Garland’s Justice Division finds that Wilbur Ross lied to Congress … however will not be being prosecuted
It has been known for some time that Ross lied to both Congress and federal courts. The Trump administration, made up of white nationalists, wanted to add a question to the 2020 U.S. census on whether respondents were U.S. citizens, despite the constitution expressly requiring that the once-a-decade census count everyone within state borders whether they are citizens or not. While the move (long advocated by anti-immigrant forces) has been thought of as a mere attempt to gather useful data, asking such questions has been shown to reduce the willingness of high-immigrant communities to respond to the census in the first place for fear of The information is passed on to the federal immigration authorities and leads to targeted investigations, harassment or deportations.
That is exactly what makes the question useful to anti-immigrant lawmakers and the Republican Party as a whole. By reducing the census turnout in non-white parishes, the “official” population of these parishes will be reduced when the congress seats are redistributed. White communities get a more accurate count, while cities and neighborhoods with high immigration rates are intimidated by lower response rates. This outcome, with non-white communities less represented than whites in Congress, is exactly what the Republican Party wants. White Americans tend to vote more Republicans; Non-white Americans have a tendency to lean heavily on the Democrats.
What Ross has now done is support Trump’s White House attempts to hide the political, partisan, and racial goals of the census changes by lying to Congress and federal courts about who requested it and why. Exposed emails clearly prove that Ross lied to Congress about his interactions with the White House. The Inspector General of the Department of Commerce has forwarded his own findings of misrepresentation to the Department of Justice for possible prosecution, and here we are. Or rather, here we were. With the new judicial ruling, the Ross case, like numerous other cases of seemingly brazen corruption by high-ranking Trump officials, now appears to be dropped.
The intriguing thing about this case is that any attempt to prosecute Ross for lying in Congress faces partisan retribution charges, but in Ross’ case it appears to be a fairly open case. Ross clearly did one thing, as evidenced by an email path that eventually leaked to the public, and he lied to Congress as clearly as lawmakers sought answers as to why the census changes were made. But more importantly, Ross lied with the express intention of hiding a plan by the Trump administration to artificially reduce the power of US citizens living in less white American cities – exactly the goal that Republican lawmakers simultaneously aimed at while pursuing false, propaganda claims about “electoral fraud” to increase electoral difficulties in poorer and less white neighborhoods.
It is an attempt to thwart the very premises of US democracy through intimidation. Find a government agency, the Republicans point it out, and you may face consequences. This could mean that your non-citizen relatives will be investigated by the federal police if you fill out a census form incorrectly. it could mean extremely harsh penalties, imposed on anyone who believed they could vote but thought wrongly.
Ross participated in a cover-up of a Republican attempt to rig elections by initially removing full representation from American cities with high immigrant rates. There is evidence. Isn’t that a punishable offense?
It may very well be that the Garland Justice Department believes that avoiding all hint of partisanship is more important than tackling high-level corruption and the attacks they have faced in the prosecution of Ross would lead to a violent backlash from Trump-backing Americans who are convinced that the charge against the longtime billionaire thug was a conspiracy against them.
But the clearer message sent to Congress by ignoring multiple lies is that Congressional lies, like the rest of the brazen corruption of Trump’s Republican den of bipartisan flatterers, are permissible. It may not technically be legal, but it is something you can do without any consequences as long as you have the support of a political party.
This, like the rest of the Republican Party-backed efforts to lie to the public without consequence in all situations, is surprisingly dangerous. It’s almost inexplicably dangerous. The message sent during the last two Republican administrations is that the public can not only be deceived, but should be deceived, even on the most important issues of the day. It is backed by a faction in the Republican House of Representatives that has slipped into overtly fascist declarations and goals, and by Republican senators who have steadfastly refused to accept consequences, even when Trump and his top officials have criminal consequences.
It has reached a point where even turmoil itself is possible and is willingly fomented by the leaders of the Republican Party. And we can’t sue a single corrupt billionaire who lied to Congress and federal judges to change the nation’s voting cards in favor of the party?
This will require justification, and “the party trying to overthrow the US government might get angry if we do” is not going to cut it.