Trump Census Tweet Blindsided DOJ Lawyer: ‘I Am Doing My Absolute Best to Figure Out What’s Going On’
President Trump’s tweet Wednesday saying the government was not “dropping its quest” to put a citizenship question in the 2020 census blindsided the Justice Department, a department attorney told a federal judge. During a hearing for one of several cases concerning the administration's push to add the question, DOJ attorney Josh Gardner said: “The tweet this morning was the first I had heard of the president's position on this issue.... I do not have a deeper understanding of what that means at this juncture other than what the president has tweeted.” Judge George Hazel ordered the hearing to explain what Trump’s tweet meant after the government said Tuesday the decision not to include the question was final. Another DOJ attorney told Hazel he’s been “instructed” to examine if there was a “path forward” for the question’s inclusion despite Supreme Court’s decision last week blocking it. Hazel gave the government attorneys until Friday to tell the court if the citizenship question was being left out of the 2020 census, or else the case against challenging it as racial discrimination will proceed. Meanwhile, the census forms have started printing without the question after the government missed a deadline on Monday.