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ACLU files FOIA request for ‘all records’ about Trump firing Comey

The ACLU's public records request follows contradictory statements from the White House and President Trump.


Andrew Wyrich


Posted on May 15, 2017   Updated on May 24, 2021, 2:21 pm CDT

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has submitted a public records request asking for documents pertaining to President Donald Trump’s decision to fire former FBI Director James Comey last week.

The ACLU said the United States “cannot afford to be kept in the dark” about Trump’s reasoning for firing Comey, which remain obscured by conflicting statements from White House officials and the president.

“The cloud of uncertainty swirling over Comey’s dismissal, along with indications that the president may have gravely abused his power, demands a public accounting,” ACLU Staff Attorney Patrick Toomey wrote in a blog post explaining the organization’s public records request.

In its Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, the ACLU said the White House’s explanations for firing Comey have “shifted significantly,” which, the organization argues, necessitates the release of documents that will allow the public to know the exact reasoning for Trump’s decision to fire Comey and the role the FBI and Department of Justice played in that decision.

The ACLU is requesting the DOJ, Office of the Attorney General, and FBI provide “all records” related to the dismissal of Comey, including, but not limited to: memoranda, correspondence, electronic mail or messages, voicemails, meeting minutes, performance reviews, drafts, and notes.

“The president’s actions and shifting justifications threaten the rule of law,” Toomey wrote in the blog post. “As both Trump and his deputy press secretary suggested, by firing Mr. Comey, Trump sought to hasten an end to the FBI’s ongoing investigation into his own campaign. But the rule of law requires that investigators and prosecutors have the independence to follow the facts wherever they lead—even if they lead to the president’s door.”

In the post, the ACLU also said it has called for the appointment of a special prosecutor and called for the acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe to permanently lead the agency’s Russia investigation.

Hina Shamsi,  director of the ACLU National Security Project, said White House interference with an FBI investigation was “incompatible” with democratic safeguards.

“Political meddling with law enforcement investigations is a recipe for abuse of power,” Shamsi said. “The public has a right to know why Comey was fired so the president can be held accountable for any abuse of his position. It’s impossible to know the truth right now because the Trump administration has issued shifting explanations, each of which is increasingly troubling.”

Read the ACLU’s public record’s request here.

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*First Published: May 15, 2017, 4:00 pm CDT