With the Trump administration having failed to turn over documents related to the preparation for the 2020/2021 presidential transition process, CREW is suing the General Services Administration (GSA), the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the Office of Government Ethics (OGE), the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and the Department of Justice (DOJ).
The Presidential Transitions Improvements Act of 2015 requires presidential candidates to set up a transition process with agency leaders six months out from Election Day. In May and June 2020, CREW requested records on the transition process from agencies on the process. However, the agencies have failed to turn over responsive documents, leaving the public largely in the dark about whether the administration will be fully prepared to shepherd our government into a second Trump term or to transfer power to his successor.
In way of public documentation, the administration was a week late submitting a six-month-out progress report to Congress, and the report was a mere nine pages. The report failed to mention what the administration is doing to address logistical challenges caused by the coronavirus or if there are pandemic experts advising the process along the way. While the report mentioned requirements for NARA and agency record keeping, it failed to describe what is being done to ensure that the administration complies with NARA guidance or whether records are being collected now. Further, after the Agency Transition Directors Council held its first meeting on May 27, 2020, GSA redacted all text from the notes of the meeting concerning key discussion items and key action items in response to a FOIA request.
Less than four months out from the election, the public needs to know what measures the Trump administration is taking to ensure that there is adequate preparation around the presidential transition process and whether it is accounting for the effects of the coronavirus. The public needs to know whether agencies are also complicit in limiting transparency around Trump’s transition process.