Watchdog Group Files FOIA Lawsuit Against National Archives For Hiding Records

Judicial Watch has announced that it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the National Archives and Records Administration, demanding records be released regarding its referral of former President Donald Trump’s presidential records to the Department of Justice.

The watchdog group’s lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, and was initiated because the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) failed to adequately respond to a FOIA request filed in February of this year.

The previous FOIA request was asking for:

  • “All records regarding the referral from NARA to the Department of Justice regarding the records management procedures of former President Donald Trump… This request includes all related records of communication between any official or employee of NARA and any official or employee of the Department of Justice and/or any other branch, department, agency, or office of the federal government.”
  • “All records regarding the retrieval of records from President Trump or any individual or entity acting on his behalf by the National Archives and Records Administration. This request includes related records of communication between any official or employee of NARA and President Trump and/or any individual or entity acting on his behalf”

In February of 2022, the National Archives requested that the DOJ investigate Trump’s handling of records from his presidency. The request ultimately led to the raid of the former president’s Mar-a-Lago home in Palm Beach, Florida.

Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton spoke out about the unprecedented raid, calling out the Biden administration for its “abuse of power” and asserting that the raid was politically motivated.

“The Biden administration’s raid on President Trump’s home is an outrageous, reckless and unprecedented abuse of power. And the American people have an urgent right to know how the Biden administration manufactured the records dispute used as a pretext for the raid on Trump’s home,” Fitton said. “The Biden administration’s unlawful secrecy on its political raid of Trump’s home speaks volumes.”

Judicial Watch was also responsible for the release of the affidavit used to justify the raid.

On August 22, Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart — the judge that approved the FBI raid of Trump’s home, who was previously a defense attorney representing employees of convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein — partially granted Judicial Watch’s request to unseal the affidavit and other documents.

In his decision, the judge stated that, “given the intense public and historical interest in an unprecedented search of a former President’s residence, the Government has not yet shown that these administrative concerns are sufficient to justify sealing.”