Trump’s Justice Department attorneys to refuse FOIA requests

Trump FOIA Mar-a-Lago

The US Secret Service has stated in court documents that there is no system in place to track visitors to President Donald Trump’s Florida resort at Mar-a-Lago. In response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed by government watchdog groups who have sought visitor logs for all of Trump’s residences, including Mar-a-Lago, Secret Service Special Agent Kim Campbell wrote the following in a court filing:

“The … search and review of records confirmed that there is no system for keeping track of presidential visitors at Mar-a-Lago, as there is at the White House complex. Specifically, it was determined that there is no grouping, listing or set of records that would reflect presidential visitors to Mar-a-Lago.”

The FOIA lawsuit was filed by the National Security Archive, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University.

Earlier this summer, a federal judge ordered the Secret Service to turn over all records for Mar-a-Lago from January 20, 2017 to March 8, 2017. In response, they only turned over a single list of 22 names of foreign dignitaries and staffers from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit in February. It was that point that the group went back into court and requested that the government be held in contempt for ignoring the court’s previous order.

Also released in the court documents on Wednesday was a disturbing statement made by Justice Department attorneys defending the case, who have made it clear that they will continue to withhold information regarding Trump’s meetings.

“The government believes that presidential schedule information is not subject to FOIA.”

 

 Noah Bookbinder, the Executive Director of the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington is concerned about the blatant disregard for transparency by the Trump administration.

“We will be pressing the court for the full set of records that does exist,” Bookbinder said. “If the government’s statement is true, however, and there really are no records documenting the many people President Trump has met with at Mar-a-Lago, the government has just revealed that everyone from lobbyists to foreign agents can buy secret access to the President — without accountability or even a simple record — by paying his personal business. And that is terrifying.”