Lawsuit Seeks Records of Trump Family Influence over Minnesota Mining Project

Washington, DC, June 25, 2019 –  Nonpartisan ethics watchdog American Oversight today sued the Trump administration to compel the release of records related to mining leases granted to Twin Metals Minnesota — a subsidiary of the Chilean mining giant Antofagasta PLC, which is run by the family of billionaire Andrónico Luksic, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner’s D.C. landlord.

The suit aims to shed light on any outside influence that may have shaped the decision to renew Twin Metals’ mining license, including what if any role Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner played in the deliberations.

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“Whether it’s booking hotel suites, granting trademarks, or renting out their D.C. mansion, lobbyists and foreign interests have made it a priority to develop generous financial relationships with the Trump family,” said Austin Evers, Executive Director of American Oversight. “The public has a right to know if the first family is using its political influence to return the favor.”

The decision to renew the mining lease has been a subject of controversy and was the focus of an extensive report by The New York Times on Tuesday. The mine in question sits on the border of Minnesota’s Boundary Waters wilderness area. Environmental groups have raised concerns over water pollution caused by the Twin Metals mine and its impact on the federal wilderness.

The Trump administration announced that it would be moving to renew Twin Metals’ leases in late 2017, overturning an Obama administration decision to deny the lease and prematurely ending a formal review of the operation’s environmental impact. The leases were formally renewed last month. The reversal followed intense lobbying by Antofagasta PLC, including a meeting between then-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and representatives of Twin Metals Minnesota. American Oversight previously uncovered calendars showing meetings between lobbyists for the Twin Metals project and senior aides to Zinke.

This reversal raises further questions about the relationship between Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, and Antofagasta PLC, and any impact that it may have had on Trump administration policy decisions. That relationship has been criticized by Richard Painter, former White House Chief Ethics Lawyer under President George W. Bush.

Luksic purchased the $5.5 million mansion currently occupied by Trump and Kushner shortly after Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election. Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner now rent the Kalorama neighborhood home for $15,000 per month. According to reporting by the Wall Street Journal, the rent is in line with similarly priced homes in the area, however, it seems to be a poor financial investment for the landlord.

In early 2019, American Oversight filed four Freedom of Information Act requests seeking documentation from the Departments of the Interior and Agriculture, and several of their component agencies. In addition to official records related to the decision to renew the mining lease, American Oversight seeks to compel the release of communications between relevant agencies, Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, Andrónico Luksic, and any employee of Antofagasta PLC or its subsidiary Twin Metals Minnesota. Today’s suit comes after both agencies failed to provide final responses to those requests.

The complaint filed by American Oversight is available here

American Oversight is a non-partisan, nonprofit ethics watchdog and is the top Freedom of Information Act litigator investigating the Trump administration. American Oversight has filed more than 100 public records lawsuits since March 2017, uncovering and publishing tens of thousands of documents including senior officials’ calendars, emails, and expense records. Through its Parallel Investigations Initiative, American Oversight uses targeted FOIA requests and litigation to prevent the Trump administration from obstructing congressional oversight. Follow us at @weareoversight and learn more at http://www.americanoversight.org.