Watchdog Calls for Perjury Investigation of Trump Officials for False Testimony About Citizenship Question on 2020 Census
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 13, 2019
Contact: Bryan Dewan, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202.780.5750
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Campaign for Accountability (CfA), a nonprofit watchdog group focused on public accountability, called on the Department of Justice (DOJ) to open a criminal investigation into A. Mark Neuman, a former transition official at the Department of Commerce, and John Gore, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General at DOJ, for having potentially committed perjury by lying about their efforts to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. CfA also called on the Office of Professional Responsibility at DOJ to investigate Mr. Gore and discipline him appropriately for violating Bar rules prohibiting dishonesty.
CfA Executive Director Daniel E. Stevens said, “The Trump administration’s cynical attempt to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census to protect Republican legislative districts is a transparent abuse of power. Now it appears top government officials lied about the citizenship question under oath to prevent the public from finding out about their power grab. DOJ should immediately investigate whether Mr. Neuman and Mr. Gore perjured themselves in their deposition testimony.”
Mr. Neuman and Mr. Gore were asked under oath about their roles in adding the citizenship question to the 2020 Census. Both claimed Mr. Neuman did not help Mr. Gore draft the letter that DOJ ultimately sent in December 2017 asking Commerce to add the citizenship question.
In fact, in October 2017, Mr. Gore and Mr. Neuman met to discuss the 2020 Census. Mr. Neuman gave Mr. Gore a ghostwritten draft of a letter that DOJ could send to Commerce requesting a citizenship question be added to the 2020 Census. The letter claimed that adding the question would enhance DOJ’s efforts to enforce the Voting Rights Act. Crucially, the letter contained a paragraph that was drafted two months earlier by Republican redistricting expert Dr. Thomas Hofeller who has since died.
When asked about these events under oath, both Mr. Neuman and Mr. Gore provided inaccurate accounts when deposed in litigation about the addition of the citizenship question.
Mr. Neuman denied the October meeting was about the letter requesting the citizenship question be added to the census, and he falsely claimed he “wasn’t part of the drafting process of the letter,” and that he had not relied on Dr. Hofeller for expertise on the Voting Rights Act. In fact, Mr. Neuman hand delivered a letter to Mr. Gore that contained Dr. Hofeller’s own words about the Voting Rights Act.
Mr. Gore was asked if he wrote the first draft of the DOJ letter, and falsely claimed he had. Mr. Gore also failed to disclose that Mr. Neuman provided input when asked who had helped him draft the letter.
Mr. Gore’s subsequent testimony to Congress, as well as documents from Dr. Hofeller’s files, reveal the misrepresentations made by both Mr. Neuman and Mr. Gore. Mr. Gore told the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that Mr. Neuman had provided him with “a draft letter that would request reinstatement of the citizenship question on the census questionnaire.”
Willfully making a material misstatement in the course of a sworn deposition is a federal crime punishable by fines and up to five years imprisonment.
CfA also referred Mr. Gore to DOJ’s Office of Professional Responsibility. District of Columbia Rule of Professional Conduct 8.4 states it is professional misconduct for lawyers to engage in dishonesty or misrepresentation or seriously interfere with the administration of justice. By testifying untruthfully in his deposition, Mr. Gore appears to have violated this prohibition.
Mr. Stevens continued, “Lying in a deposition undermines the integrity of our justice system. It is all the more reprehensible that here it appears top government officials – who are sworn to uphold the law – have engaged in such despicable, and potentially criminal, conduct. Mr. Neuman and Mr. Gore must be held accountable.”
Campaign for Accountability is a nonpartisan, nonprofit watchdog organization that uses research, litigation, and aggressive communications to expose misconduct and malfeasance in public life and hold those who act at the expense of the public good accountable for their actions.