Why Trump will likely lose the census citizenship fight

“I think over the next day or two you’ll see what approach we’re taking, and I think it does provide a pathway for getting the question on the Census,” Attorney General William Barr told reporters Monday.

But that effort has been undermined repeatedly by Trump, who last week appeared to concede that his purpose was political. “Number one, you need it for Congress, you need it for Congress, for districting,” he said last week. “You need it for appropriations — where are the funds going? How many people are there? Are they citizens or are they not citizens?” (Districting and appropriations decisions are in fact based on the census’s raw population numbers, not on any citizen count.)

“It just feels like a farce,” said Vanita Gupta, a former head of DOJ’s civil rights division under President Barack Obama and current president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, which opposes adding the citizenship question. “There are people who view this as the president asking the Justice Department to do unlawful things and to violate and undermine the rule of law.”