Donald Trump Says His Own Administration's Words Are 'FAKE!' in Bizarre Tweet About Census

President Donald Trump on Wednesday morning tweeted that his own Commerce Secretary's statement, suggesting there would not be pushback on the Supreme Court's decision to leave a citizenship question out of the census, was "FAKE."

"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!" Trump tweeted. "We are absolutely moving forward, as we must, because of the importance of the answer to this question."

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Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who oversees the census, said in a statement Tuesday that "I respect the Supreme Court but strongly disagree with its ruling regarding my decision to reinstate a citizenship question on the 2020 Census."

"The Census Bureau has started the process of printing the decennial questionnaires without the question," Ross continued. "My focus, and that of the Bureau and the entire Department is to conduct a complete and accurate census."

Donald Trump Fake Commerce Census
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross (R) speaks before U.S. President Donald Trump signed a presidential memorandum aimed at what he calls Chinese economic aggression in the Roosevelt Room at the White House on March 22, 2018, in Washington, DC. Trump tweeted that "the Department of Commerce dropping its quest to put the Citizenship Question on the census is incorrect or, to state it differently, FAKE!" Mark Wilson/Getty

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Trump tweeted Tuesday night that it was 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." The president added that he had requested that the Commerce and Justice departments "do whatever is necessary to bring this most vital of questions, and this very important case, to a successful conclusion."

As recently as 9:40 Wednesday morning, not two hours before the president posted his tweet, the Justice Department confirmed to Newsweek that the 2020 census would proceed without a citizenship question.

The saga to include a citizenship question on the 2020 census and the emerging divisions within the Trump administration to its implementation follow a months-long court battle that ultimately ended up with a narrow Supreme Court victory for opponents of the question.

In the last week of the term, the court's liberal justices, joined by Chief Justice John Roberts, found that the Commerce Department lied about its rationale for why it wanted to include a citizenship question in the first place. The majority opinion, which stated that an agency must provide a basis for its decisions, concluded that Ross' stated reasoning did not match the administrative record. The case was sent back to the district court to conduct official fact-finding, while the citizenship question remains blocked by an earlier injunction.

After the Supreme Court ruled against the Trump administration, Justice Department officials privately said they would have to take out the citizenship question because the printing deadline for the 2020 census was so close and it would be impossible for the court to rule in favor of the administration in time, sources with knowledge on the matter told The Washington Post on Tuesday.

Trump tweeted he would consider delaying the census count, but Justice Department officials said that would not be legally possible.

The president frequently deems the media as "fake news" but now appears to be telling Americans not to trust the words of his own administration.

Concerns over the addition of a citizenship question have plagued the Census Bureau since Ross began his quest to find a way to include the question in the early weeks of his tenure at the Commerce Department. Critics have contended that such a question would discourage Latino households from participating, leading to an undercount in the official survey the federal government uses to distribute more than $675 billion in funds to state and local governments and apportion seats for the House of Representatives.

The Census Bureau's own researchers have concluded that adding a citizenship question could reduce the response rate among households with at least one non-citizen resident by up to 8 percent, leading to an undercount of around nine million largely Hispanic residents.

A citizenship question is already asked on the bureau's annual American Community Survey, and the agency will move forward with asking a citizenship question on its 2019 census test questionnaire, which was designed to identify the impact of including a citizenship question on the final, official survey in 2020.

Donald Trump Says His Own Administration's Words Are 'FAKE!' in Bizarre Tweet About Census | Politics