CONTACT: Jordan Libowitz
202-408-5565 [email protected]
Washington, D.C.—Following the government’s decision to turn over just one document with 22 names of presidential visitors from the Japanese delegation’s visit to Mar-a-Lago, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), the National Security Archive and the Knight First Amendment Institute today filed a motion in Federal Court asking the Court issue an order requiring the government to show cause for its failure to comply with its court-ordered obligation to produce all responsive and non-exempt Mar-a-Lago records.
“[T]he government has repeatedly represented to the Court and to plaintiffs that the Secret Service was processing and would produce all non-exempt records for presidential visitors to Mar-a-Lago, a process it claimed would require months,” the motion reads. “At the appointed deadline, defendants reneged on the agreement. Instead of seeking relief from the Court’s July 14 order or even acknowledging that they were violating its terms by failing to produce all responsive and non-exempt Mar-a-Lago records, defendants simply produced a two-page document regarding the Japanese Prime Minister’s visit to Mar-a-Lago…Notably, defendants did not explain why they produced those two pages but not records of other visits that reportedly occurred during the periods covered by plaintiffs’ FOIA requests.”
The Court, plaintiffs, and the citizens whose interest in transparency is ultimately served by the FOIA deserve an explanation for the government’s sudden about-face. This case raises issues that lie at the heart of our democracy. The government’s recent conduct raises much more elementary issues – namely, whether the government’s word can be taken at face value and whether the government will continue to defy the orders issued by the Court in this case.
“The record here points inescapably to one conclusion: the government has failed to comply with the Court’s clear and unambiguous order,” the motion continues. “Accordingly, the Court should immediately order the defendants to show cause for their failure to comply with the Court’s order to produce all the requested records of presidential visits to Mar-a-Lago, issue the requested briefing schedule, schedule a hearing to determine what sanctions, if any, are appropriate.”