Fitton: We Sue Office of Director of National Intelligence for Failure to Produce Legally Mandated Report on Russia’s Election Meddling

Russian President Vladimir Putin listens to a question during a meeting with the students while visiting the Sirius Educational Centre for Gifted Children in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, Friday, July 21, 2017. (Alexei Nikolsky/Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
Alexei Nikolsky/Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP
TOM FITTON
Washington, DC

We are a year into the Trump administration, and we’re still trying to get a grip on why the agencies that report to him continue to slow-walk the release of information the public rightfully should have. The latest instance involves alleged Russian meddling in European elections, something we think the administration would want to be known.

We have had to file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) to obtain a legally mandated, unclassified report on “the funding of political parties and nongovernmental organizations in former Soviet states and countries in Europe by the Russian Security Service” (Judicial Watch v. Office of the Director of National Intelligence (No. 17-cv-02073)).

We filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia after the ODNI failed to respond to our August 4, 2017, FOIA request seeking “the intelligence community assessment required by Section 502 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016.”

We point out that Section 502 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 clearly mandates the following:

Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Director of National Intelligence shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees an intelligence community assessment on the funding of political parties and nongovernmental organizations in former Soviet states and countries in Europe by the Russian Security Service since January 1, 2016.

The Act also requires that the intelligence community assessment be submitted in the form of an unclassified report, which, under the law, would be subject to FOIA disclosure. The Act took effect on December 18, 2015. So it is not as if the ODNI is unaware of its legal obligations.

This is our second lawsuit seeking unclassified reports produced by the intelligence community assessing Russia’s interference in foreign elections. On March 8, 2017, we filed a FOIA lawsuit against the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) seeking an unclassified report assessing Russia’s alleged interference in foreign elections (Judicial Watch v. Central Intelligence Agency (No. 1:17-cv-00414)). That lawsuit came after the CIA failed to respond to a December 14, 2016, FOIA request seeking the unclassified assessment of Russia’s meddling in foreign elections requested by Congressman Mike Turner (R-OH).

On December 13, 2016, the Wall Street Journal reported that since 2015, Turner, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, “has been pushing for the unclassified version of a report assessing Moscow’s interference in foreign elections, particularly across Europe.” The Wall Street Journal further reported:

The White House already released a classified version of the assessment but Mr. Turner has been pushing for the unclassified version, which would be releasable to the public, he said. Mr. Turner sent the White House a letter … demanding for the unclassified version of the report.

“The fact that the administration is picking and choosing the information it releases and who they release it to ought to give everybody concern that the administration is manipulating this,” he said.

The report is critical for a better understanding of what Moscow is up to in elections overseas, he said.  Mr. Turner said the Obama administration is cherry picking what it releases.

In a separate but equally important lawsuit, we are suing the ODNI to force the agency to conduct the required damage assessment related to Hillary Clinton’s mishandling of classified information. The ODNI is mandated by law to conduct such an assessment. But it has simply refused to do so.

The Obama administration’s politicized intelligence community promoted the story of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians to influence the 2016 presidential election but refuses to release any concrete evidence. And the Deep State intelligence establishment continues to be in cover-up mode on Russia. This illegal secrecy seems designed to protect the Obama/Clinton administration and to undermine the Trump administration. President Trump may want to ask his appointees what they are hiding about Russian influence. And why they refuse to be forthcoming.

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