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Tag: FOIA

FBI Refuses to Release Comey’s Trump Memos to Media Because of Ongoing Probe

Former FBI Director James Comey testifies about President Trump before the Senate Intelligence Committee in early June.

Former FBI Director James Comey testifies about President Trump before the Senate Intelligence Committee in early June.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI has declined Freedom of Information Act requests from several media outlets asking for copies of the memos that fired FBI Director James Comey wrote following President Trump’s one-on-one meetings with the bureau boss before he was terminated.

Comey revealed the existence of the memos when he testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee on June 8.

Those memos could be critical evidence to the special counsel team that is investigating whether Trump obstructed justice by firing Comey and allegedly directing him to drop an investigation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

In denying the FOIA request, the FBI responded that the records were exempt from disclosure because of “pending or prospective law enforcement proceeding relevant to those responsive records, and the release of the information in these responsive records could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings.”

Secret Service Says No Recordings Exist of Trump Conversations with Comey

President Trump

President Trump

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Donald Trump’s suggestion that there were “tapes” of conversations between himself and then-FBI Director James Comey appears to be yet another fabrication of the beleaguered president.

The Secret Service, responding to a Freedom of Information request by the Wall Street Journal, said there are no recordings or transcripts of conversations between Trump and Comey. 

“In response to your request, the Secret Service has conducted a reasonable search for responsive records,” the agency wrote in a statement responding to the FOIA request. “It appears, from a review of Secret Service’s main indices, that there are no records pertaining to your request that are referenced in these indices.”

Shortly after firing Comey, Trump tweeted that Comey “better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”

During Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, the former FBI boss responded, “Lordy, I hope there are tapes.”

DOJ: Resignation Letters of Ousted U.S. Attorneys Are Not Public’s Business

foiaBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Justice Department denied a newspaper’s request for copies of the resignation letters from nearly 50 U.S. attorneys who were removed by the Trump administration, but there’s a caveat.

The Justice Department denied the request from the Burlington Free Press without having read any of the letters, public records show. 

Lawyers for the DOJ said the reason for not releasing the records was that they are so “inherently personal.”

The records you have requested are inherently personal and protected from disclosure,” senior Justice Department counsel Vanessa R. Brinkmann wrote, citing a section of the Freedom of Information Act that “pertains to information the release of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of the personal privacy of third parties.”

“None of this information is appropriate for discretionary disclosure,” Brinkmann added.

Open-government advocates and even Sen. Bernie Sanders were astounded, saying the public has a right to see the contents of the resignation letters.

Journalist, Researcher Sue U.S. Spy Agencies for Records about Russian Hacking

foiaBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

An investigative reporter and a researcher at Harvard have filed a open records lawsuit this week against the CIA, FBI, Homeland Security and the Director of National Intelligence for information about Russia interfering with the U.S. presidential election.

The suit was filed by investigative reporter Jason Leopold and Ryan Shapiro, a PhD candidate at MIT and researcher at Harvard, after the government agencies failed to provide records, Recode reports

The FOIA seeks information between Congress and the federal intelligence agencies and between the FBI and White House.

The CIA has expressed confidence that Russia interfered in the election in the months leading up to the November contest.

Recode reports:

The plaintiffs seek information about any ongoing investigation into ties between Donald Trump or anyone associated with his campaign and interference from the Russian government in the election. Leopold and Shapiro also asked for communications between Congress and the Republican and Democratic campaign committees, as well as Hillary Clinton’s campaign in reference to Russian involvement with the 2016 presidential race.

Vice News Files FOIA Suit Against FBI for Information about Clintons, Trump, Breitbart

foiaBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Vice News filed a FOIA lawsuit against the FBI, demanding records that may shed light on the bureau’s disclosures, actions and apparent leaks just days before the presidential election.

Vice News hopes to get a better understanding of the timing of the disclosures and apparent leaks that many observers believe helped Donald Trump win the election. 

The FOIA lawsuit demands the release of records about:

  • ŸŸAllegations of the FBI violating the Hatch Act by allegedly using its authority to influence the course of the 2016 U.S. presidential election
  • ŸŸInternal discontent at the FBI regarding the bureau’s Hillary Clinton investigations
  • ŸŸAll leaks of information by the FBI to the media and political operatives about FBI investigations of Clinton
  • All FBI communications with Breitbart News; Breitbart executive chairman Steve Bannon, who Trump named his chief strategist and White House counselor after Bannon served as his campaign CEO; former Trump campaign manager Corey R. Lewandowski, Fox News, and Fox News hosts Bret Baier and Sean Hannity; former New York City mayor and Trump adviser Rudy Giuliani; and Republican strategist and Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone
  • ŸŸWhite nationalist Richard Spencer, his National Policy Institute, and the “alt-right.”

The lawsuit “seeks public disclosure of specified government records to make sense of the pivotal role of the FBI, as well as of other agencies, in perhaps the most controversial presidential election in modern U.S. history,” says Vice’s complaint, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia by FOIA attorney Jeffrey Light.

“Despite subsequent disclosures of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, since its inception, the FBI staunchly maintained it was a purely apolitical entity,” the complaint notes. “However, numerous leading political and news media figures from across the political spectrum explicitly assert the FBI repeatedly and with significant impact affected the outcome of the 2016 U.S. Presidential election.”

FBI May Have Been Investigating Donald Trump During the Campaign

Donald TrumpBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI may have been investigating Donald Trump before the November election, according to records obtained by Vice News. 

The news agency had filed a Freedom of Information Act request for documents connected to comments made by Trump on the campaign trail.

In July, Trump urged Russia to track down “30,000 emails [from Hillary Clinton’s private email server] that are missing.” And in August, Trump made an incendiary comment that some interpreted to be the Republican calling for the assassination of opponent Hillary Clinton.

“The nature of your request implicates investigative records the FBI may or may not compile pursuant to its broad criminal and national security investigative missions and functions,” the bureau responded. “Accordingly, the FBI cannot confirm or deny the existence of any such records about your subject as the mere acknowledgment of such records existence or nonexistence would in and of itself trigger foreseeable harm to agency interests.”

Vice wrote:

This is what’s known as a Glomar response, a term that came into use after the CIA denied a reporter’s request in the 1970s for information about a CIA ship, the Glomar Explorer, designed to recover a sunken Russian submarine. The agency refused to either confirm or deny the ship’s existence.

The FBI’s response states that any records the FBI has must be withheld because disclosure would interfere with enforcement proceedings and disclose information vital for effective investigations. This response is highly suspicious.

Attorneys Sue FBI, Homeland Security for Surveillance Records of Black Lives Matter

Photo by Steve Neavling.

Photo by Steve Neavling.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI and Homeland Security have been sued for documents on the agencies’ surveillance of Black Lives Matter protesters.

The suit was filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights and the Milton A.Cramer Center at Case Wester Reserve University School of Law, Salon reports. 

The human rights lawyers said the agencies have failed to release the documents of surveillance.

Federal surveillance of the movement began after Ferguson police killed Michael Brown. In July 2015, an Intercept report revealed that Homeland Security was collecting information on peaceful protests.

The new lawsuit allege police also used a “cell site simulator,” or a “Stingray,” to monitor the protests and individual activists.

Vice News Sues FBI, Secret Service for Details of Investigations into Donald Trump

donald trump rallyBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Vice News and an MIT doctoral student filed suit against the Secret Service on Tuesday in hopes of receiving documents about the agency’s investigation of Donald Trump and his campaign.

The news agency also filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the FBI after Trump made two inflammatory statements about Hillary Clinton.

In two separate statements, Trump appeared to suggest violence against Clinton for her position on gun control – one that the Republican candidate has mischaracterize as an attempt to abolish the Second Amendment.

Trump also called on Russia to leak hacked documents of Clinton’s emails.

Vice News wrote:

VICE News and Shapiro submitted a FOIA request to the Secret Service August 18 for records pertaining to its investigation of Trump’s statements, and sought expedited processing. We asked for “disclosure of any and all records that mention or refer to the matter” and “any records compiled as part of any investigation into the referenced matter.” The Secret Service didn’t even acknowledge the request.