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Washington, DC May 5, 2020 – Nonpartisan ethics watchdog American Oversight today sued the Trump administration for failing to release emails sent by two dozen top officials related to the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. The lawsuit, filed against the Departments of the Treasury, State, and Health and Human Services (HHS), as well as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), seeks to compel the release of emails sent by senior Trump appointees including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, HHS Secretary Alex Azar, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo along with senior aides and others.

A link to today’s complaint is available here: LINK

“While the president and White House officials take unearned victory laps and try to reopen the country, the administration is anticipating a near doubling of the daily coronavirus death toll by June,” said Austin Evers, executive director of American Oversight. “We need more transparency and accountability to get to the bottom of this historic failure of leadership.”

In early March, American Oversight filed a suite of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests with the Treasury Department, State Department, HHS, and CMS seeking senior officials’ sent emails containing key terms — such as “COVID-19,” “N95,” and “quarantine” — related to the coronavirus pandemic.

In addition to the cabinet secretaries, the FOIA requests identified several other top Trump officials whose emails should be released to the public, including Dr. Deborah Birx, who is currently coordinating the White House coronavirus task force, and Deputy Treasury Secretary Justin Muzinich, who was recently assigned to oversee the troubled paycheck protection program

The agencies failed to release the requested emails as required by law, leading American Oversight to file suit today.

The Trump administration’s mismanaged handling of the pandemic has put hundreds of thousands of lives at risk and has lagged behind the responses of other developed nations, such as Germany, Taiwan, Iceland, and South Korea. Today’s lawsuit aims to shed light on how the administration has handled this public health emergency. 

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American Oversight has filed more than 400 public records requests with federal and state government agencies to investigate the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus. This is the fourth lawsuit filed by American Oversight as part of that effort.

More information on our investigation, the records we’ve received, and a comprehensive list of our coronavirus-related public records requests are available here: LINK

American Oversight is a non-partisan, 501(c)(3) 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 exposing conflicts of interest, abuse of power, and misuse of taxpayer resources at the highest levels of the government. In 2019, American Oversight launched its State Accountability Project to investigate voter suppression and has filed dozens of records requests in Florida, Georgia, and Texas. Follow us at @weareoversight and learn more at http://www.americanoversight.org.

American Oversight es una organización sin fines de lucro e independiente dedicada a la transparencia y a la lucha contra la corrupción. American Oversight es el litigante principal utilizando la Ley de Libertad de Información (Freedom of Information Act o FOIA por sus siglas en inglés) para investigar a la administración de Trump. Desde su comienzo en el marzo de 2017, ha presentado más de 100 demandas para la divulgación de archivos públicos, descubriendo y hecho público decenas de miles de documentos, incluyendo calendarios, correos electrónicos, y registros de gastos de altos funcionarios. Síguenos a @ojocorrupcion y aprende más en nuestro sitio web www.americanoversight.org.