You’ve probably heard a lot overnight about President Trump backing down on trying to get a citizenship question on the census questionnaire next year.

Perhaps you too were surprised that this president who takes on even meaningless slights or disagreements on Twitter would give up so easily. He didn’t.

The rest of the day’s story is somewhat different: Trump says he’s devised another path to the same information, which isn’t certain to be tied up for months with obstructionist lawsuits. And Attorney General William Barr is vocally backing him up. Makes it less of a backdown in his eyes.

“Today,” Trump declared at a White House event with Barr, “I’m here to say we are not backing down on our effort to determine the citizenship status of the United States population.”

UPDATE: On Friday Trump told reporters: “”No, no. Not only didn’t I back down, I backed up because anybody else would have given this up a long time ago.”

Trump and his Commerce Department have been in a long legal and political fight to put the citizenship question back on the Census questionnaire that was dropped after 2010. The census results are crucial to apportioning members in the House e very 10 years and billions of dollars in federal monies.

Democrats oppose the question in part because Trump wants it but also they say it will discourage minority participation. Democrats wouldn’t mind beefed up census numbers in urban areas.

Trump:

As shocking as it may be, far-left Democrats in our country are determined to conceal the number of illegal aliens in our midst.  They probably know the number is far greater, much higher than anyone would have believed before.

Trump noted the Supreme Court recently affirmed the administration’s right to ask the question, but sought further explanations, which would have ignited further lawsuits.

The president added:

Knowing this information is vital to formulating sound public policy, whether the issue is healthcare, education, civil rights, or immigration.  We must have a reliable count of how many citizens, non-citizens, and illegal aliens are in our country.

Recent polls indicate a substantial majority of Americans agree with Trump — 60 percent in a Hill-HarrisX survey said the Census Bureau should ask the citizenship question even if it results in fewer responses. Twenty-one percent said the question should not be included and 19 percent were unsure.

So, the president issued one of his favored Executive Orders to eliminate long-standing obstacles to federal agencies sharing data.

I’m hereby ordering every department and agency in the federal government to provide the Department of Commerce with all requested records regarding the number of citizens and non-citizens in our country.  They must furnish all legally accessible records in their possession immediately.

We will utilize these vast federal databases to gain a full, complete, and accurate count of the non-citizen population, including databases maintained by the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration.

Trump noted that Census had said given the vast amount of population data available it could accurately estimate the U.S. citizenship about 90 percent.

Barr concurred:

Today’s executive order…will ensure that we finally have an accurate understanding of how many citizens and non-citizens live in our country.

Put that in 280 characters and tweet it.