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Washington, DC, April 27, 2022 – Today, nonpartisan watchdog group American Oversight sued the CIA and State Department for failing to release records related to efforts to share nuclear technology with Saudi Arabia during the Trump administration.
Statement from Melanie Sloan, Senior Advisor at American Oversight
“Future historians inevitably will debate whether the ‘Trump Doctrine’ was driven by corruption or incompetence. In the here and now, the public needs to know whether this deal was in the interests of the pocketbooks of Trump cronies or the American people. The CIA and the State Department must comply with the law, and release the information to which the public is entitled.”
In 2019, multiple government employees came forward as whistleblowers to warn about efforts inside the Trump White House to rush the transfer of highly sensitive U.S. nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia.
The whistleblowers raised concerns that the effort was driven by the personal interests of the president and his associates and not the best interests of U.S. foreign policy.
A 2019 report, released by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, summarized the whistleblowers’ complaints and described documents showing communications related to the nuclear technology proposal between White House officials and individuals close to President Donald Trump, including Michael Flynn, Thomas Barrack, and Rick Gates.
Gates, a former Trump campaign aide, pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy and lying to investigators during the Robert Mueller investigation; Barrack, a longtime Trump ally, faces trial in September for illegal lobbying on behalf of the United Arab Emirates. In October 2021, public reporting revealed that Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser, had hidden $200,000 in payments for his work on a 2014 plan to build 40 nuclear power plants in Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern nations.
Following the revelations of Flynn’s hidden payments, American Oversight filed Freedom of Information Act requests with the CIA and State Department seeking communications between senior officials and individuals associated with the Saudi nuclear effort. Among other records, the requests sought communications between Mike Pompeo, who served as both Secretary of State and Director of the CIA, and parties including Flynn, Barrack, Gates, and other individuals closely associated with President Trump.
As of today — more than a month after receiving American Oversight’s latest FOIA requests — neither the CIA nor the State Department has released records in response to those requests. Today’s lawsuit asks the court to compel the release of responsive records, which will allow the public to assess the extent to which the Trump administration put personal and business ties ahead of national interests.
American Oversight is a non-partisan, 501(c)(3) nonprofit ethics watchdog that uses public records requests backed by litigation to expose official misconduct, threats to democracy, and abuses of power at all levels of government. Documents obtained by American Oversight have supported investigative work by journalists, congressional committees, and independent watchdogs, and have been featured in hundreds of news reports across the country. Follow us at @weareoversight and learn more at http://www.americanoversight.org.