December 13, 2017

It was just reported that last evening, in advance of Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein’s testimony today before the House Judiciary Committee, DOJ took the unprecedented step of inviting a group of reporters to its offices to view private text messages, which were critical of President Trump and sent during the 2016 campaign by two former FBI investigators who, until recently, served on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team.

Given this highly unusual, if not unprecedented, action to secretly leak the contents of documents currently under review by your office, the public has a clear and pressing interest in learning whether the leak was properly authorized and the extent to which the interests of the texts’ authors, the inspector general, and DOJ’s interests in the orderly administration of justice were appropriately considered and protected. This need is made more compelling by the concern expressed by a former DOJ official that the leak was done “so Rosenstein can get credit from House Republicans at his hearing today.” Only through the full disclosure of the facts and circumstances surrounding this decision can the public have confidence in the actions and integrity of the Justice Department.

As a result, CREW requests all communications concerning the decision to invite reporters to DOJ on December 12, 2017, for the purpose of sharing with them private text messages sent during the 2016 presidential campaign by two former FBI investigators on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team. This request includes, but is not limited to: (1) communications with reporters regarding this meeting; (2) communications within DOJ about whether, when, and how to share the text messages with reporters including, inter alia, the Office of the Inspector General, the Attorney General, the Office of Legislative Affairs, the Deputy Attorney General, the Associate Attorney General, the Office of Public Affairs, and any individual within the senior leadership offices of DOJ; and (3) communications with any member of Congress and/or their staff regarding this matter.

CREW further requests documents reflecting who made the decision to release this material to reporters on the evening of December 12, 2017.

Click here to read our FOIA to the Office of the Inspector General, here to read our expedited FOIA request to the Office of Information Policy, and here to read our expedited request to the Office of Public Affairs.

Update: On December 15, 2017, the Office of Inspector General responded to our request with one responsive document.

Update: On January 3, 2018, CREW filed a lawsuit challenging the failure of the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) to respond to its request for expedition of its FOIA request. Read about the lawsuit here.