Under the Freedom of Information Act, CREW requests:
- Copies of all communications, including records or notes related to communications, between former Acting Director and current Deputy Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Jim Kurth and Executive Vice Presidents of the Trump Organization Donald Trump, Jr. and Eric Trump between January 20, 2017 and November 21, 2017; and
- Copies of all communications, including records or notes related to communications, between former Deputy Director and current Principal Deputy Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Greg Sheehan and Donald Trump, Jr. and Eric Trump between June 5, 2017 and November 21, 2017; and
- Copies of all communications by Mr. Sheehan, Mr. Kurth, Deputy Director Steve Guertin, and any appointee to or employee of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with members of the Trump Organization and persons with the email handle @trumporg.com between January 20, 2017 and November 21, 2017; and
- Copies of all communications by Mr. Sheehan, Mr. Kurth, Mr. Guertin, and any appointee to or employee of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with members and representatives of the Boone and Crockett Club, and persons with the email handle @boone-crockett.org.
On November 14, 2017, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (U.S. FWS) abruptly announced that it would be allowing the remains of elephants legally hunted in Zimbabwe and Zambia to be imported into the United States, a reversal of the position taken by the previous administration. Three days later, President Donald Trump announced that he would be putting the “big game trophy decision on hold,” to review pertinent conservation facts. On November 19 the President announced that he expects a decision on the ban “next week”. Because the U.S. FWS originally announced the reversal of this ban at a Safari Club International (hunting advocacy group) event in Tanzania, it can be reasonably expected that advocates of trophy hunting have had and will continue to have input on the decisions of the U.S. FWS concerning policy that affects their interests.
The President’s sons, Donald Trump, Jr. and Eric Trump, are known trophy hunters who have in the past hunted elephants, among other animals, in Zimbabwe – one of the countries affected by any policy decision of the U.S. FWS and the President regarding trophy hunting. According to a Cable News Network source, members of the Trump family discussed a desire to change the U.S. FWS’s rules on trophy hunting; Donald Trump, Jr. purportedly made this issue a priority “early on” in the Trump campaign. It has also been reported that Donald Trump, Jr. is a member of the hunting and conservation organization the Boone and Crockett Club, and participated heavily in the search for an Interior Secretary during his father’s presidential transition.
Because Donald Trump, Jr. and Eric Trump are private citizens, whose primary connection to the federal government is through their father, the public has a significant interest in learning whether and to what extent they influenced the U.S. FWS’s decision making on this issue to advance their own personal interests.
The requested records would also allow the public to understand how and why the U.S. FWS came to its sudden decision to reverse previous trophy hunting import bans.
CREW received records in response to the request. There were no meetings on the requested calendars with Eric Trump or Donald Trump Jr., but there were meetings with a few groups mentioned in the request, including the International Wildlife Conservation Council (IWCC), Safari Club, and with John Jackson, the founder of Conservation Force who has since been appointed to the IWCC. Read the records here: Kurth calendar, Winchell calendar, Guertin calendar.