A government watchdog group asked a federal judge to force the Department of Justice to turn over any documents or records that may shed light as to any “improper political influence on the DOJ prosecution of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.”
In a lawsuit filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, American Oversight claims the DOJ failed meet the response deadlines for three Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests filed by the organization in February pertaining to Flynn’s criminal case. In a highly controversial move last week, the DOJ filed a motion to drop the criminal charges against Flynn, despite the retired lieutenant general having already pleaded guilty to lying to agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
The group is now seeking declarative and injunctive relief against the DOJ to compel the department’s compliance with its information request.
Specifically, American Oversight’s FOIA request asked the DOJ to produce all non-communications between any persons employed by the Office of the Attorney General or Deputy Attorney General and Flynn’s current or previous attorneys in the case.
Flynn was initially represented by Robert Kelner and Stephen Anthony when he pleaded guilty to charges that he lied to the FBI. However, Flynn fired his legal team soon thereafter, replacing them with a new of team of attorneys led by conservative lawyer Sidney Powell. The new attorneys immediately accused the DOJ and Flynn’s previous legal team of wrongdoing.
The request also sought records “sufficient to identify all ‘outside prosecutors’ assigned to review the federal criminal case’ against Flynn, as well as all “guidance,” “directives,” and “communications” with such outside prosecutors.
According to the filed complaint, the DOJ acknowledged the watchdog’s FOIA request on March 27 and assigned the request a tracking number, but has failed to follow up with the filing in accordance with federal law.
“As of the date of this complaint, DOJ has failed to (a) notify American Oversight of any determination regarding its FOIA requests, including the scope of any responsive records DOJ intends to produce or withhold and the reasons for any withholdings; or (b) produce the requested records or demonstrate that the requested records are lawfully exempt from production,” the group wrote in the complaint. “DOJ is wrongfully withholding non-exempt agency records requested by American Oversight by failing to produce non-exempt records responsive to its FOIA requests.”
The complaint asked the court to order the DOJ to conduct a search for the requested records and produce them within 20 days.
See the full filing below:
[Image via SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images]
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