BY JOHN T. BENNETT
WASHINGTON — Contradicting his own Justice and Commerce departments, President Donald Trump on Wednesday said his administration is moving ahead with an effort to place a citizenship question on the census amid a fierce legal battle.
After the Supreme Court called the administration’s census plan “contrived,” administration officials on Tuesday said they were dropping the proposal. But the president tweeted Wednesday he will continue the push.
Despite his own subordinates saying the citizenship question effort had been scrapped, the president called media reports of their plans to end the push “incorrect or, to state it differently, FAKE!”
But on Tuesday, federal attorneys told litigants in the New York challenge to the case that it would not pursue the question. Justice Department spokeswoman Kelly Laco confirmed that the government will move ahead with printing census forms without it.
And Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement on Tuesday that the Census Bureau would be focused on conducting a “complete and accurate census” — without the citizenship question.
“I respect the Supreme Court but strongly disagree with its ruling regarding my decision to reinstate a citizenship question on the 2020 Census,” Ross said.
But then came Wednesday morning.
“We are absolutely moving forward, as we must, because of the importance of the answer to this question,” Trump tweeted on the second day he has no public events scheduled.
Numerous times during his presidency, the president has contradicted policy announcements by his own staff and Cabinet officials.
Michael Macagnone contributed to this report.