JAY SEKULOW, ACLJ
A federal court in Washington, DC just ordered the State Department bureaucracy to produce documents to the ACLJ at the highest rate since the election.
This is the most significant progress we have made against the deep state bureaucracy that has continually thwarted federal law – refusing to turn over key documents related to government corruption.
The ACLJ had filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit more than six months ago seeking records regarding the “favor” that the State Department did for the Clinton Foundation while Secretary Clinton ran the department. We got our first documents on the eve of the inauguration disclosing that an individual by the name of Brock Johnson had been that “favor.”
As we reported before:
Brock Johnson later tipped off Cheryl Mills about a “Significant FOIA” request in 2012 that requested information about “the number of email accounts of, or associated with, Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton, and the extent to which those email accounts are identifiable as those of or associated with Secretary Clinton.” The Inspector General found that the State Department then falsely stated that there were “no records responsive to your request,” when in fact numerous officials knew about Secretary Clinton’s private email address. To be clear, Johnson tipped off Cheryl Mills about the FOIA request that would have first publicly uncovered Secretary Clinton’s email scandal; instead the State Department covered it up for months longer. And Johnson obtained his job as a “favor” to the Clinton Foundation.
Through our lawsuit, we learned that the State Department had 64,000 of Brock Johnson’s emails, which we demanded the State Department turn over to us. These emails could unearth who else in the bureaucracy was conspiring, undermining, or furthering a shadow government agenda within the department.
State Department bureaucrats, however, claimed that it would take them 18 to 36 years to process these emails and turn them over to us as required by law.
18 to 36 years to follow the law. This was truly a case of justice delayed is justice denied. We asked the court to intervene, explaining that the State Department bureaucracy was frustrating the very purpose of FOIA.
As the court noted at our first hearing, the people deserve to know what the government is doing. The court made it clear that the State Department would be required to comply with the law in “months” stating, “I’m not talking about years.”
After that first hearing, the State Department then revealed that low and behold it had discovered an additional 32,000 Brock Johnson emails on its classified system (the logical result of him working in the unit the Obama Administration had tasked with attempting to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, GITMO).
After nine months, 96,000 responsive documents had been unearthed, but the deep state bureaucracy had only turned over 145 of those documents to us.
Then, at a follow-up hearing, the court described the State Department’s slow-rolling production, delays, and refusal to comply with the basic tenets of the law “troubling.”
The federal court has now ordered the State Department bureaucracy, for the next six months, to process documents for production to the ACLJ at more than three times the rate they had claimed they would be able to do. It’s the largest court-ordered production against the State Department since the election and will go a long way to beginning to unearth the truth and expose and stop the shadow government.
This significant court-ordered production allows us to direct the prioritization of 6,000 pages of emails. We get to decide which emails we get first. It will provide us the critical information to pinpoint specific search requests for the State Department to produce the documents that matter most in the quickest period of time.
The court will next consider our claim that the State Department bureaucracy has exhibited a pattern and practice of thwarting the law, refusing to comply with FOIA requests until we file a lawsuit. We have four pending FOIA lawsuits against the State Department and two additional FOIA requests where the bureaucratic agency has yet to respond in compliance with the law.
In total, we have more than half a dozen ongoing cases against the shadow government. In just days, the bureaucracy will be forced to respond to our lawsuit against the NSA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) regarding the explosion of classified national security leaks. As we’ve explained before:
[In its final days,] the Obama Administration changed the rules under Executive Order 12333 and dramatically increased access by bureaucratic agencies to the raw intelligence information held by the NSA. It did so just days before the Obama Administration left office and President Trump was to be sworn in. We immediately submitted legal demands under FOIA to find out the who, what, and why behind what appears to be a change motivated by political retribution.
The agencies failed to respond to our requests as required by the law, and so . . . the ACLJ took them to federal court. In our Complaint, we alleged that the NSA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) both ignored the clear requirements of FOIA and are wrongfully withholding the records we identified. Those records are critical to understanding the depth of what is happening – and the carefully calculated collusion behind it.
And, as I mentioned, deep state operatives consistently leak selective information – intelligence information, classified information, information that jeopardizes U.S. intelligence methods, sources, and even the very integrity and reputation of the U.S. intelligence community – all for purely political purposes. I understand that, in Washington, leaking is certainly not new. But it has never happened at such an alarming rate and with a root system embedded deep and wide throughout the bureaucracy – the shadow government.
This is the critically important battle we are facing. We will not back down. We must press forward. We will win.
Jay Sekulow is Chief Counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), one of the most prestigious law firms in the country. He is an accomplished Supreme Court advocate, renowned expert on religious liberty, a #1 New York Times-bestselling author, and a respected broadcaster. At the U.S. Supreme Court, Mr. Sekulow has argued 12 cases – including several landmark cases regarding religious liberty.
Used with the permission of the American Center for Law and Justice.