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FTC Appeals Bush Library's Withholding of Kavanaugh's White House Files

Today Fix the Court appealed a FOIA determination made by the George W. Bush Library and Museum that our request for Judge Kavanaugh’s White House counsel and staff secretary files would take 20 years to fulfill and that several thousands of pages were being withheld under FOIA and Presidential Records Act exemptions.

“Given Mr. Kavanaugh’s status as President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, substantial and significant public benefit would result from the timely disclosure of the requested records,” FTC executive director Gabe Roth wrote in the appeal.

Our FOIA request to the Bush Library was initially filed on May 8, 2017, but was not processed until April 5 of this year. On April 17 the Library wrote that, in addition to a 20-year timeframe, 13,943 pages of records related to our request were exempted from release, mostly due to the PRA. We believe that such a response was insufficient, as it provided almost no detail describing the basis for the claimed exemptions, making it impossible for us to assess whether they were appropriately applied to the documents in question. The PRA sets a default restriction on documents to five years after the completion of a president’s term, with a duration of up to 12 years available for records a president specifies prior to leaving office.

In addition, we’re requesting that the “approximately 429,870 pages and 667,824 electronic files of potentially responsive records” that the Library has identified – likely where the 20-year timeframe arises from – be processed and released quickly given heightened public interest.

On July 10, the nonpartisan watchdog group American Oversight filed two lawsuits in federal court on behalf of Fix the Court following unfulfilled FOIAs to NARA (re: the Starr Report) and the Justice Department (re: correspondence Kavanaugh wrote to or received from OLC).

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