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Politics Briefing: Trudeau holding COVID-19 conference call with premiers – The Globe and Mail

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Hello,

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is holding a conference call with Canada’s provincial and territorial premiers on Monday – his 36th on dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The call comes after meetings between Mr. Trudeau and, individually, the premiers of the Northwest Territories, Ontario and British Columbia since the last discussion on Dec. 14.

And it comes as the Omicron variant is challenging health-care systems across Canada, with expectations for increasing calls from the provinces and territories to Ottawa to provide help.

Federal Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc forecast aspects of the discussion during a Friday news conference that also featured Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos and Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer.

“As we regularly do, we will be speaking with all of Canada’s premiers early next week to discuss the changing realities we are seeing and how we can continue to work collaboratively to keep Canadians safe,” Mr. LeBlanc told the news conference.

But the Minister warned there were limits to available federal health-care resources. “So, our job is to take absolutely everything we can and allocate it in the most effective way to support all of our partners and Canadians to come through the other side, particularly of this urgency around the Omicron variant.”

Mr. Duclos said federal assets include health-trained people in the Canadian Armed Forces as well as vaccines, tests – 140 million are being distributed to provinces and territories this month on a per-capita basis – personal protective equipment, and tracing support.

He said he had, Thursday, met with other provincial and territorial ministers to talk about collective efforts to deal with Omicron.

Amid pandemic concerns, provincial governments have called for an increase in the Canada Health Transfer payments that the federal government provides for health care.

Parliamentary reporter Kristy Kirkup reported here on Mr. Duclos views, expressed Friday.

Please check The Globe and Mail later for reports on the talks between Mr. Trudeau and the premiers.

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Ian Bailey. It is available exclusively to our digital subscribers. If you’re reading this on the web, subscribers can sign up for the Politics newsletter and more than 20 others on our newsletter sign-up page. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.

TODAY’S HEADLINES

CALL FOR BARTON PROBE – The federal Ethics Commissioner has been formally asked to investigate whether Canada’s former ambassador to Beijing, Dominic Barton, violated ethics rules when he accepted an offer to become chair of Rio Tinto, a global mining company that does much of its business in China. Two New Democratic MPs wrote to the commissioner, Mario Dion, on Friday. Story here.

SPORT MINISTER LOOKING AT ABUSE – Minister of Sport Pascale St-Onge is reviewing how national sport organizations deal with abuse within their own ranks, following a Globe and Mail investigation that detailed a troubling number of eating disorders among Olympic athletes, and coaches driven by dubious sports science. Story here.

STRIKING A BALANCE FOR CLIMATE-CHANGE ADAPTATION STRATEGY – Climate Change columnist and Feature Writer Adam Radwanski looks at what Canada has to do on the climate change adaptation strategy promised in 2022. Story here.

CANADA OFFERS HELP WITH UKRAINE CRISIS – Canada has told the U.S. that it’s willing to help with potential deterrence measures against Russia, which could include sanctions, to de-escalate the crisis in Ukraine, CBC News has learned. Story here from CBC.

FORTIN FIGHT FOR REINSTATEMENT CONTINUES – Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin’s fight for reinstatement as head of Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution campaign is proceeding on after a critical decision by the Federal Court of Appeal. Story here from Global News.

MINISTER’S TWEET BRINGS MOCKERY – A Manitoba cabinet minister is making international headlines over a tweet that features his wife shovelling snow in extremely cold temperatures after a 12-hour overnight shift as a front-line health-care worker. Story here from CBC.

THIS AND THAT

The House of Commons has adjourned until Jan. 31 at 11 a.m. ET.

THE DECIBEL – On Monday’s edition of The Globe and Mail podcast, Independent Business Reporter Chris Hannay talks about which industries are feeling hardest hit during the pandemic, how the government’s guidelines and support for workers and workplaces have changed, and why, for some, the timing of these new lockdowns really couldn’t have been worse. The Decibel is here.

PRIME MINISTER’S DAY

Private meetings. The Prime Minister hosts a call with the provincial and territorial premiers.

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER

No schedule released for the Deputy Prime Minister.

LEADERS

No schedules released for party leaders.

PUBLIC OPINION

REGIONAL RESENTMENT NOT ON RISE – Philippe J. Fournier, in Maclean’s, notes that a new survey looking at federal-provincial attitudes suggests that even in Quebec and Alberta, regional resentment is not on the rise. The analysis is here.

OPINION

Kelly Cryderman (The Globe and Mail) on the challenging year ahead for Alberta Premier Jason Kenney: Even before the leadership review, the next three months will play out like a fast-paced political obstacle course. Besides the Omicron wave, there will be a fraught new session of the legislature come February, with a Throne Speech and then a budget by the end of that month. In presenting a budget that could nearly eliminate the provincial deficit, the UCP will be under immense pressure to make sure the stronger economic numbers — based on higher oil demand — aren’t simply a boost to government and energy companies’ financials. An improving economy must translate into jobs and a wee bit of optimism.”

John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail) on letting cities sprawl as the answer to the housing crisis: “Urban sprawl is blamed for taking prime farmland out of production; for encouraging people to use cars – which contribute to global warming – rather than public transit; for creating dreary, cookie-cutter communities devoid of human connections. But more than two-thirds of us live in suburbs. They are where young people, for generations, have purchased a housing foothold. Limiting growth on the urban fringe limits social mobility and increases inequality.”

Shachi Kurl (The Ottawa Citizen) on how Canada’s relations with China are at a critical crossroads:New data soon to be released by the Angus Reid Institute show a portrait of self-conflicted Canadians. While a majority say they wish they could trade less with China, a majority are also worried about the economic consequences, and tellingly, are skeptical that any steps Canada takes to protest or push back against the Beijing regime’s various bad actions are unlikely to make a difference. The problem with this kind of public resignation and morass is that it carries the potential of allowing continued political inertia and lack of leadership on a file Canada cannot ignore. And while the appointment of a highly qualified, extremely experienced national security advisor (and let’s be very clear, that’s exactly what Ms. Thomas is) may be helpful, it is not a magic bullet. She is the sixth such adviser since 2008.”

Kathryn May (Policy Options) on the biggest shuffle of federal deputy ministers in memory: “As one senior bureaucrat who was not authorized to speak publicly said, a bank or another large company wouldn’t change the leadership of so many of its operations at once. “This was a long time in coming,” said Michel Vermette, a former CEO of the Association of Professional Executives of the Public Service of Canada. “You have to wonder why they are so slow to fill these positions. Some of these departures have been known for quite some time. What took so long?”

Jeffrey Simpson (Literary Review of Canada) on “That Ever Governed Frenzy” through the eyes of Jody Wilson-Raybould and Michael Wernick: “Wernick insists there has never been more publicly available information. That is perhaps how matters look to him, but from the outside, the government is like a sound machine on autopilot, spinning the same messages, phrases, and clichés. The Trudeau Liberals, in those pre-2015-election days, promised to do politics differently after the gloomy, tight-lipped Stephen Harper years. The past two minority governments suggest that the Liberals, for many reasons—and only a small one being Wilson-Raybould’s saga—have lost their lustre.”

Got a news tip that you’d like us to look into? E-mail us at tips@globeandmail.com. Need to share documents securely? Reach out via SecureDrop

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Something strange happening in Canadian politics – The Hill Times

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CHELSEA, QUE.—Something strange has been happening in Canadian politics since the Trump contagion to the south. Voters elect a mostly reasonable, often affable, Member of Parliament only to discover, as they watch their MP climb the leadership ladder, that they are not so reasonable, not so affable after all. That, in fact, some are drifting rapidly from the centre to the fringe, even to tinfoil-hat territory.

It is evident, most recently, with Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole, whose public appearances—tweets, videos, press conferences—have taken on an almost manic tone. One 40-second video has him bouncing around in front of the Parliament Buildings in -23 weather—“-37 in Yellowknife!”—accusing Liberal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault of threatening to shut down Canada’s energy sector in 18 months, leaving us all freezing in the dark.

First, Guilbeault could never achieve such a coup even if he tried. Governments move too slowly. Second, even the most ardent environmentalists acknowledge that renewables are not ready to replace fossil fuels that quickly. But, more important, OToole’s claim is not true—and he knew when he said it that it wasn’t true, as The Toronto Star’s Althia Raj underscores in a recent column.

What Guilbeault has vowed to do—elaborating on an international commitment first endorsed by Stephen Harper in 2009—is end federal subsidies to fossil fuel companies by 2023. It’s a tall order, but it is no sneak attack: it was promised in the Liberals’ election campaign and now, at last, they are preparing to deliver. In an interview with The Narwhal, Guilbeault mentioned “eliminating fossil fuels” in a list of his government’s ambitions, an obvious error (he had spoken previously of eliminating fossil fuel *subsidies*.)

As Raj reports, O’Toole publicly acknowledged the minister “made a mistake” in a Zoom presentation, before an unusually animated O’Toole made his video, distorting Guilbeault’s intention. The Conservative leader apparently doesn’t care, because that is the way politics works these days. Hysterical exaggerations, often flatly untrue, advanced without a shred of shame or remorse.

Consider the Conservative leader’s recent condemnation of Justin Trudeau for “normalizing lockdowns” and single-handedly bungling the management of the pandemic, by failing to provide rapid tests and PPE. By now, everyone knows that lockdowns are determined by provinces and not by Ottawa— indeed, premiers are more inclined to ignore federal suggestions than embrace them.

As to rapid tests, some will recall stories a year ago of millions of rapid tests gathering dust in provincial storerooms, of premiers, like British Columbia’s John Horgan, reluctant to use them because they were seen to be not as reliable as lab-based PCR tests. In fact, as Trudeau underscored last week, his government has sourced 425 million rapid tests overall. Some 85 million were delivered to provinces before December, and the Omicron onslaught, and another 35 million last month. And, as O’Toole must surely know, another 140 million are arriving now and being distributed.

There have been, and still are, shortages in some provinces, but the problem can hardly be laid at the feet of the federal government—certainly, not entirely—as anyone following the news knows. But this distortion is of a piece with O’Toole’s incoherence on the pandemic.

He and his wife are both vaccinated, after an early bout of COVID, and he regularly urges everyone to get their shots. He supports mandatory vaccines for the Canadian Armed Forces—as a veteran and proud defender of the military—yet is ambiguous about his own caucus, playing with words to hide the fact that there are some vaccine resisters in the Conservative ranks.

He also took up the cause of long-haul truckers who were resisting mandatory vaccines to be imposed by the federal government this week. O’Toole claimed the requirement would disrupt crucial supply chains and called for rapid testing instead. Then, in a confusing climb-down, the government backed away from its vaccine deadline insisting that any unvaccinated Canadian drivers quarantine for several days before coming home. Unvaccinated American truckers will be turned back.

Vaccines, quarantines, rapid tests: any way this unfolds there will be (hopefully short-lived) supply chain disruptions and, ultimately, little daylight between O’Toole’s and Trudeau’s positions.

O’Toole also accuses the prime minister of characterizing all vaccine resisters as “racists” and worse, which is not what Trudeau said. In fact, he and O’Toole are in agreement that some who haven’t been vaccinated may be fearful, uninformed, or unable to manoeuvre the system. Trudeau’s target is the small minority of wilful resisters and protesters, with links to far-right movements who are also anti-immigrant, anti-feminist, and anti-government.

Yet O’Toole wants “reasonable accommodation” for all resisters and suggests frequent testing rather than vaccines—except, he must know the rapid tests are not as reliable when it comes to detecting Omicron. Meanwhile, the pandemic runs rampant, hospitals are overwhelmed and parents are worried sick for their school-age children.

To keep his ragged band of followers from splitting asunder, O’Toole—a formerly likeable, middle-of-the-road backbencher and junior minister in Harper’s government—is behaving like an unhinged bile-machine. It is particularly laughable when he accuses the prime minister of avoiding taking a stand on Quebec’s discriminatory Bill 21, of “attempting to play both sides” by leaving it to Quebecers to decide the issue, rather than forcefully defending the bill’s victims, notably Muslim women schoolteachers. Laughable, because that is exactly what O’Toole has been doing.

The brilliant political cartoonist, Michael de Adder, summed up public reaction to this new, hyperactive O’Toole with a depiction of a giant hand, labelled Public Opinion, flicking a tiny O’Toole away like an annoying fly.

For all that, O’Toole is a model of reserve compared to Maxime Bernier. Old-timers (guilty) remember Bernier as a dapper, friendly urban sophisticate with libertarian economic views—hence the sobriquet, Mad Max. However, he was thought to be socially liberal and displayed no overtly anti-immigrant, or social conservative views as a member of Harper’s cabinet.

That was then. Bernier, of course, has become a vehement anti-vaxxer, anti-masker, a critic of the immigration Quebec needs to fill jobs, and, since losing the leadership to O’Toole in 2019, a harsh critic of his former rival. He calls O’Toole #RedErin and “wet noodle” and vows NEVER to go back “to that morally and intellectually corrupt party.”

Bernier sees “fascists coming out from under rocks everywhere,” as he noted in a recent tweet, this one aimed at Alberta’s NDP health critic David Shepherd, who expressed cautious support for mandatory vaccines. He routinely calls Trudeau a fascist. The Toronto Star “is run by hateful fascists.” RCMP Chief Brenda Lucki is “gestapo” for asking Canadians to report suspicious internet activity.

Bernier also opposes the recently proposed Quebec tax on the unvaccinated— probably a trial balloon, rather than enforceable policy—and says Premier Francois Legault’s government “is responsible for the death of thousands of elderly Quebecers in nursing homes. Now it wants to force the unvaccinated to pay for its abysmal management of the pandemic.”

Bernier has his high-profile fans, including Dr. Jordan Peterson, the Canadian academic who made an international reputation opposing trans rights, or “radical trans ideology,” and taking on wokeism in all its manifestations. Peterson also likes Conservative finance critic, Pierre Poilievre, noting on Twitter last week: “It’s nice to see a politician with some courage. You should have run for the Conservative leadership, and maybe you could bring Max Bernier back on board. He has some spine, too.”

Poilievre was flattered by the vote of confidence from “an outstanding, world-renowned Canadian thinker.” When chided by Liberals for his praise of the discredited psychology professor, Poilievre replied, with typical subtlety: “There’s more brainpower in Dr. Peterson’s pinky finger than in all the bobbleheads in the Liberal caucus combined.”

So goes the debate within the new politics. (Rebel News Ezra Levant tweeted, after O’Toole posted a coded defence of “LIBERTY” last week, in a nod to anti-vaxxers: “You weird liar.”) It is steeped in vitriol, fuelled by resentment and untethered from facts. As Alberta Premier Jason Kenney once famously said of Trudeau, it has “the intellectual depth of a finger bowl.”

But it is dangerous and corrosive, nonetheless. Bernier is able to muster large crowds in downtown Montreal on a frigid January day. His People’s Party of Canada (PPC) is gaining strength in Alberta and Saskatchewan. As for Poilievre—shrewd, ambitious, coldly calculating, a master of the personal smear—he could well replace O’Toole when the time is right.

Many voters would not want these harsh, angry men—no matter their politics—sitting on the local school board, never mind running the country.

But there is no telling what will happen if Trudeau stumbles—as he inevitably will; as all long-serving prime ministers do.

O’Toole may look benign in retrospect.

Susan Riley is a veteran political columnist who writes regularly for The Hill Times.

The Hill Times 

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Poroshenko, Former President, Returns to Ukraine, Roiling Politics – The New York Times

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Petro O. Poroshenko, a former president, returned to Kyiv on Monday facing possible arrest, adding internal political turmoil to a threat of Russian invasion.

KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s former president and a leading opposition figure, Petro O. Poroshenko, returned Monday to Kyiv, where he faced possible arrest, adding internal political turmoil to the mounting threat of a Russian invasion.

Mr. Poroshenko’s return brought into focus Ukraine’s wobbly politics, which were mostly in the background in recent weeks as the United States and its allies in Europe scrambled to forestall Russian military intervention.

He arrived Monday morning at Kyiv’s Zhuliani airport, where a scene erupted at passport control. Mr. Poroshenko said border guards for some time refused to allow him to enter the country, though he was due to appear at a court hearing later in the day in Kyiv. He later passed the border control but said authorities had confiscated his passport.

Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, has been embroiled in a long-running feud with Mr. Poroshenko, who was president from 2014 to 2019. Mr. Poroshenko faces a court hearing late Monday morning on charges of high treason and supporting terrorism.

His appearance in the capital where he once governed comes after a week of mostly futile negotiations between Russia and the West seeking a solution to tense disagreements over the security of Eastern Europe.

In Kyiv, opinions differed on whether the threat of an arrest was just another maneuver in Ukraine’s typically byzantine politics at home, or something more ominous related to the Russian threat.

Analysts suggested that Mr. Zelensky might be seizing on the distraction of the Russian military buildup on the Ukrainian border to sideline an opponent, or that he hoped to tamp down possible opposition protests if he is forced to make unpopular concessions to Moscow to avoid an invasion.

“Maybe he thinks that with forces on the border, Ukrainians won’t protest” an arrest of the opposition leader, said Volodymyr Yermolenko, editor in chief of Ukraine World, a journal covering politics. If so, he said, it is a risky move.

“With the situation on the border, when everybody is yelling, ‘There will be a war,’ it’s very strange,” Mr. Yermolenko said of the spectacle of Ukraine’s two leading politicians squabbling despite the existential threat to their country. “It just seems ridiculous.”

Polls have consistently shown Mr. Zelensky and Mr. Poroshenko to be Ukraine’s most popular politicians. Mr. Poroshenko has a base of support in Ukrainian nationalist politics, particularly in the country’s western regions, which want closer ties with Europe, and he has criticized Mr. Zelensky for giving ground in peace negotiations with Russia to resolve the war in eastern Ukraine.

Sergei Supinsky/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Mr. Poroshenko left Ukraine last month, saying he had meetings in Europe. Prosecutors say he left to avoid a court hearing.

Mr. Zelensky’s aides have said that the charges against Mr. Poroshenko are justified and that courts decided the timing of the arrest and other actions, including the freezing of Mr. Poroshenko’s assets earlier this month.

The former president was accused of missing a court hearing last month while traveling abroad. He returned to Ukraine on Monday despite reports in the Ukrainian news media that a court had issued a sealed order for his arrest.

Mr. Poroshenko left the presidency in 2019, when he lost an election to Mr. Zelensky, a former comedian who ran as an outsider to politics who would fight corruption and uproot the entrenched interests of Ukraine’s political class. Mr. Zelensky’s popularity has since slumped. Opinion polls today show only a slight advantage in a potential future election against Mr. Poroshenko, who is now a member of Parliament in the European Solidarity party.

In an interview before his return to Ukraine, Mr. Poroshenko said that his arrest might help Mr. Zelensky sideline a rival but that the political instability would play into the hands of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.

“He wants to undermine the stability in Ukraine,” Mr. Poroshenko said of Mr. Putin. “He analyzes two versions: One version is a military aggression through the Ukrainian-Russian or Ukrainian-Belarusian border. The second is just to undermine the stability inside Ukraine, and in this way just stop Ukraine from our future membership in NATO and in the E.U.”

Mr. Poroshenko offered no evidence of a Russian hand in the political turmoil and described internal Ukrainian feuds as the most likely cause of the legal pressure he faced. But he said Mr. Zelensky might hope to win concessions from Russia by arresting a politician aligned with the nationalist wing of Ukrainian politics.

“I am absolutely confident this is a very important gift to Putin,” Mr. Poroshenko said. “Maybe with this gift he wanted to launch a negotiation with Putin, as a precondition.”

Andriy Dubchak/Associated Press

After massing tens of thousands of soldiers on Ukraine’s border through the fall, Russia demanded last month that the United States and NATO pull back forces from countries in Eastern Europe and guarantee that Ukraine not join the Western alliance.

Diplomatic talks last week with Russia ended inconclusively, and Russian officials now say they are awaiting a written response to their demands from the United States.

As a contingency, in case diplomacy fails, Ukraine has also been quietly pursuing talks with Russia and proposed a bilateral meeting between Mr. Zelensky and Mr. Putin. On Friday, the Ukrainian presidential chief of staff, Andri Yermak, suggested a three-way video conference with the Russian and Ukrainian leaders and President Biden.

Mr. Poroshenko’s controversial return was not the first sign of political turmoil. In November, just as Russia was ramping up its deployments along the border, Mr. Zelensky told journalists that Russia was also planning a coup.

He said Russian operatives were seeking to draw one of Ukraine’s wealthy businessmen, Rinat Akhmetov, into a plot against his government. The businessman was “being dragged into a war against the Ukrainian state,” Mr. Zelensky said, but he provided no evidence and made no move to arrest Mr. Akhmetov.

Mr. Akhmetov vehemently denied any involvement in a plot to undermine Mr. Zelensky’s government.

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New documents show census officials concerned about political interference from Trump's Commerce Department – CNN

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(CNN)Newly released documents appear to show top career officials at the Census Bureau had drafted a memo of concerns during the Trump administration’s attempts to exert political pressure on the bureau during the 2020 population count.

Other records show career officials alarmed by pressure from political appointees to alter processes for tallying undocumented immigrants and citizenship data that would likely result in GOP gains in the US House of Representatives. The records are among hundreds of documents that the liberal-leaning Brennan Center for Justice at New York University’s law school obtained in a lawsuit filed in September 2020.
The New York Times was the first to report on the Census Bureau records.
An email among senior officials at the Census Bureau from September 2020 discusses the Commerce Department, which oversees the bureau, and what the officials considered to be an “unusually high degree of engagement in technical matters, which is unprecedented.”
The email and other documents came out as a result of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit between the Brennan Center and the Department of Commerce, as well as eight other federal agencies. The email shows that the officials drafted a memo and planned to discuss with then-Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross his apparent interest in areas the Census Bureau officials perceived to be under the bureau’s independent jurisdiction, separate from its parent agency. The issues involved technical aspects of the population count including the privacy of census participants, the use of estimates to fill in missing population data, pressure to take shortcuts to produce population totals and political pressure for a last-minute push to identify and count undocumented immigrants.
In an email to CNN, Ross said he had no recognition of seeing the memo at any meeting in which the set of topics was discussed with him. The Census Bureau did not return CNN’s multiple requests for comment.
The Census Bureau’s population estimates are used for reapportionment, the process of reallocating House districts among the 50 states. But the Trump administration also wanted the bureau to separately tally the number of undocumented immigrants in each state. Then-President Donald Trump had ordered the tally in a July 2020 presidential memorandum, saying he wanted to subtract them from House reapportionment population estimates, CNN reported at the time.
Trump had already sought to use the census as a way to advance his immigration priorities as President. In June 2019, the Supreme Court rejected his administration’s attempt to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.
The FOIA suit ended in October 2020, when the trial court granted the Brennan Center’s motion for a preliminary injunction, forcing the agencies, including the Commerce Department, to produce most of the requested documents to the Brennan Center on a rolling basis. All of the documents were made public last week, revealing for the first time new details about the struggle that senior census officials had faced when counteracting the Trump administration’s political influence at the agency.
Other undated records released as part of the same suit suggest that the Commerce Department planned to have Ross make personal calls to 10 Republican governors in order to lobby them to provide state records to “enhance the frame from which citizenship status is determined.” There was no evidence to suggest that similar calls were made to Democratic governors, according to the Brennan Center’s analysis of the FOIA documents it received.
The records also show that Census Bureau officials tasked with carrying out Trump’s July 2020 memo did not think it was achievable due to timing and technical restraints. In August 2020, emails addressed to then-Bureau Director Steven Dillingham, appointed by Trump, and political appointee Nathaniel Cogley said the bureau “has been consistently pessimistic” about the feasibility of determining undocumented populations and that “under the best, most legally defensible methodology, we are at great risk of not being able to carry out the policy outlined in the Presidential Memorandum by December 31, 2020.”
Another email suggests that political appointees joined the 2020 census count process late in the game when Dillingham introduced two of them to career officials at the bureau in August 2020 “to accomplish much work in a short period of time.” The email states that the two appointees, Cogley and Benjamin Overholt, were “interested in” efforts to produce citizenship data. An internal watchdog report in 2021 cited the two appointees for leading the administration’s efforts to produce a last-minute report on undocumented populations in the final days of the Trump administration.
Soon after the inspector general report revealed the push to produce a tally of noncitizens that career officials said could not be assembled, Dillingham, who denied the accusations of partisan interference at the bureau, resigned nearly a year before his term had been scheduled to end, dashing the possibility of being fired by the then-incoming Biden administration.
Dillingham and Cogley did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment. Attempts to reach Overholt have been unsuccessful.
In addition to Ross’ apparent interest in Census Bureau affairs, other FOIA records show the Commerce Department under the Trump administration was in close contact with anti-immigration groups leading up to the 2020 census count.
Records show Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, a group that advocates for reduced immigration, emailing directly with Ross in December 2019 about the group’s recent report on “long-term consequences of mass immigration and the apportionment of House seats. … ” The email opens with a reference to a call from Ross.
The FOIA records also reveal a connection between a Commerce Department official and a former Trump adviser known for his work in the administration peddling unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud. An email chain shows a Commerce Department employee putting Cogley in contact with the Heritage Foundation’s Hans von Spakovsky, a member of Trump’s failed voter fraud commission.

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