Last  week, it was reported that Congress voted to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in criminal contempt of Congress. Um, what exactly does that mean, you wonder? Here’s a simple breakdown: Congressional subpoenas are an important way for Congress to compel testimony from witnesses and conduct research and oversight, so it's a crime to ignore them. Here, Barr and Ross were held in contempt over failure to comply with subpoenas regarding the attempted, but failed, addition of the citizenship question to the 2020 census. It only takes one Chamber to hold someone in contempt, and afterward Congress has four options: (1) Recommend the DOJ prosecute the individual, (2) Direct the House Sergeant-at-Arms to handcuff and detain the individual, (3) Grant legal standing to a specific Committee to file a civil lawsuit against the individual, or (4) Do nothing, and the vote becomes purely symbolic. Option 2 sounds pretty dramatic, but in the current climate, our money is on the do nothing option. Do you really expect anything else?

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