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Law requires release, but details kept behind locked doors

Russian President Vladimir Putin and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

Russian President Vladimir Putin and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

Russia is all over the news these days. The Democrats charge the Russians colluded with the Trump campaign to get him elected. The GOP says Hillary Clinton’s financial windfall of some $140 million donated by Russians to her foundation should be investigated. It was Russian “sources” who supplied details of the largely discredited “dossier” about then-candidate Trump.

So when the government has details in an unclassified report about Russian intervention, it seems reasonable that information should be available to the public.

The Washington watchdog Judicial Watch, however, was denied access through a Freedom of Information Act request and filed a lawsuit against the office of the Director of National Intelligence.

The ODNI failed to respond to an Aug. 4, 2017, FOIA request seeking the intelligence community assessment required by Section 502 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016, Judicial Watch said.

That law requires the DNI, “not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this act,” to give to congressional committees a report 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.”

Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said 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.”

“The Deep State intelligence establishment continues to be in a cover-up mode on Russia,” he said. “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 Russia.”

Judicial Watch said the law requires that the assessment be contained in an unclassified report.

It’s the second Judicial Watch lawsuit seeking unclassified reports produced by the intelligence community assessing Russia’s interference in foreign elections.

On March 8, 2017, Judicial Watch filed a FOIA lawsuit against the CIA seeking an unclassified report assessing Russia’s interference in foreign elections.

The Wall Street Journal reported a year ago Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, was trying to secure the release of “the unclassified version of a report assessing Moscow’s interference in foreign elections, particularly across Europe.”

The Journal reported the administration then was “picking and choosing the information it releases and who they release it to,” which “ought to give everybody concern that the administration is manipulating this.”



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