Court Criticizes DOJ’s FOIA Response
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced U.S. District Court Judge Reggie B. Walton instructed the Justice Department to immediately begin producing records about DOJ communications with Nellie Ohr, the wife of senior DOJ official Bruce Ohr. Nellie Ohr worked for Clinton campaign vendor Fusion GPS on the anti-Trump Dossier campaign document.
Judge Walton rejected a Justice Department request to begin producing documents six months from now and ordered the DOJ to begin producing documents immediately on a rolling basis over the next two months. Judge Walton also rejected DOJ’s efforts to restrict their search to only 2016.
Judge Walton repeatedly criticized the Justice Department during a June 14 hearing:
I think if it’s been almost, since December when the initial request was made more should have been done by now. And it seems to me if you have someone who’s going to come into office and they say they’re going to be a disrupter, that they should appreciate there’s going to be a lot of FOIA requests and therefore, should gear up to deal with those requests. So I’m not real sympathetic to the position that you have limited staff and therefore, you can’t comply with these requests. So I think you’re going to have to get some more people.
I mean FOIA is considered to be very important. I keep getting from the government, from various agencies we can’t do this, we can’t do that because we don’t have the resources. I’m not real sympathetic to that. FOIA is important. Open government is important, and government has to comply with FOIA in order to make it an open government.
In March 2018 Judicial Watch filed the FOIA lawsuit after the Justice Department failed to respond to a December 2017 FOIA request (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No.1:18-cv-00491)). The lawsuit seeks:
- All records of contact or communication, including but not limited to emails, text messages, and instant chats, between DOJ officials in the Attorney General’s Office and Fusion GPS employee or contractor Nellie Ohr.
“We are pleased another court rejected the Justice Department’s inexcusable stonewalling on documents of intense public interest – Obama DOJ collusion with the Clinton campaign vendor Fusion GPS to target then-candidate Donald Trump,” stated Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “How extraordinary it is that this Justice Department is now under court order to stop stalling on releasing records about potential corruption in the Obama Justice Department!”
In December 2017, Bruce Ohr was removed from his position as U.S. Associate Deputy Attorney General after it was revealed that he conducted undisclosed meetings with anti-Trump dossier author Christopher Steel and Glenn Simpson, principal of Fusion GPS. A House Intelligence Committee memo released by Chairman Devin Nunes on February 2 noted that Ohr’s wife, Nellie, was “employed by Fusion GPS to assist in the cultivation of opposition research on Trump” and that Bruce Ohr passed the results of that research, which was paid for by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Hillary Clinton campaign, to the FBI.