Contact: Jordan Libowitz
202-408-5565 | [email protected]
Washington — The Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) failed to provide documents concerning the legal authority of the president to invoke emergency powers to declare a national emergency to build a wall along America’s southern border, leading to a lawsuit filed today by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) against the Department of Justice.
“Americans deserve to know the true basis for President Trump’s unprecedented decision to enact emergency powers to pay for a border wall,” said CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder. “We’re suing because the government has so far failed to produce the requested documents or provide an explanation for their delay.”
Last month, President Trump and the White House threatened to use emergency powers to bypass Congress and construct a wall along the southern border. On January 10, 2019, CREW filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for relevant communications, including legal opinions, from OLC, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Defense. CREW also requested expedited review based on the significant media interest in the matter, and the urgency that the public be assured of the government’s integrity in addressing the situation. OLC denied CREW’s request for expedition on February 12, and at the same time advised CREW that the office was unable to comply with the law’s basic requirement that agencies respond to such requests within 20 working days.
“The Justice Department’s inadequate response raises major questions about whether even the president’s own administration believes there is a legal basis for him to bypass the constitutional authority granted to Congress to appropriate funds,” Bookbinder said.