On April 16, 2018, CREW sent four FOIA requests to the State Department seeking communication records in relation to the information the ranking members of the House Committees on Oversight and Government Reform and Foreign Affairs detailed in their March 15, 2018 letter to General John F. Kelly and Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan from a whistleblower. The whistleblower “indicat[ed] that high-level officials at the White House and State Department worked with a network of conservative activists to conduct a ‘cleaning’ of employees they believed were not sufficiently ‘supportive’ of President Trump’s agenda.” Additionally, it appears that a career employee’s name and country of origin were scrutinized in making staffing and assignment decisions at the Department of State, and that certain political appointees are thus not beyond taking discriminatory measures against, or making discriminatory assessments on, protected classes.
The requested records would shed light on the extent, if any, that the White House and high-level State Department officials have or were expected to disrupt the careers of civil service employees for their perceived political loyalties or intangible human backgrounds. As the 2017 removal of Sahar Nowrouzzadeh from her detail, and the legal actions allegedly undertaken by various State Department employees charging “political retribution” make clear, high-level White House and State Department officials are able and willing to target federal employees who they believe do not fit their social or political mold.
Read the FOIA requests here: