Case Number: 1:21-cv-01294
Court: U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
Client: Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
Complaint Filed: May 11, 2021
Background: In January 2021, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press submitted two Freedom of Information Act requests to the U.S. Justice Department seeking all versions of the Department’s news media guidelines in effect since President Trump’s inauguration in January 2017, as well as emails that discussed the guidelines dating back to the start of Trump’s presidency. After more than 100 days without a response, the Reporters Committee sued the Justice Department to obtain the documents.
The lawsuit came just days after the Washington Post reported that three of its reporters had received letters notifying them that the government had obtained their telephone toll records for a months-long period in 2017. As the Reporters Committee noted in a blog post published the day the lawsuit was filed, the requested records could shed light on the Trump administration’s approach to the longstanding guidelines for seizing journalists’ records.
The lawsuit claims that the Justice Department violated FOIA by failing to comply with statutory deadlines and for wrongfully withholding agency records. It requests that the district court order the Justice Department to complete its search of the requested records and release all non-exempt records responsive to the requests within 20 days.