CONTACT: Jordan Libowitz
202-408-5565 | [email protected]

Washington—The government has not demonstrated it complied with the Court’s order to turn over presidential visitor logs, according to a brief filed today by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), the National Security Archive (NSA) and the Knight First Amendment Institute.

“In short, the Court ordered the government – based on the government’s representations to Plaintiffs and the Court – to process records relating to presidential visits to Mar-a-Lago as agency records under the FOIA,” the brief reads. “Rather than complying, however, the government now claims those records are not subject to the FOIA at all.”

Having first represented to the Court and the plaintiffs that it would be turning over the visitor logs, and asking the Court for a last minute delay to finish processing them, the government turned over just 22 names from the Japanese prime minister’s visit to Mar-a-Lago. At no previous point did the government advise plaintiffs or the Court that it lacked access to responsive records. Instead, it represented it needed months to process the records in its possession, and sought concessions from the plaintiffs on categories of records that could be excluded to ease the Secret Service’s burden.

“The government’s [explanation] hints at another, troubling explanation for the government’s about-face – the possible destruction or transfer of responsive records,” the brief continues. The government “asserts that beyond records concerning the Japanese Prime Minister’s visit, ‘the Secret Service had access to only a handful of e-mails and copies of Presidential schedules showing that the President was expecting to meet with an individual or individuals at Mar-a-Lago,’ (emphasis added), and further that the Secret Service ‘has no access to any records directly responsive to Plaintiffs’ request.’”

The government shows clear non-compliance with the Court’s order. This non-compliance has needlessly delayed this matter and calls into question the candor with which the government has approached this litigation. The Court ordered the government to produce “non-exempt responsive records” of “presidential visitors at Mar-a-Lago” and they have not, plain and simple.