The Department of Justice (DOJ) is slow-walking its response to a federal court order mandating that the agency forfeit records pertaining to President Joe Biden’s March 2021 executive order that directed federal agencies to develop plans for federal interference in state election administration.
On Thursday evening, the agency filed a motion for summary judgment with the Fort Myers Division of the U.S. Middle District Court of Florida in an attempt to conceal communication records related to Executive Order 14019, which required all federal departments to “consider ways to expand citizens’ opportunities to register to vote and to obtain information about, and participate in, the electoral process.” In law, “summary judgment” is a decision issued by a court based on statements and evidence for one party against another without going to a full trial.
The move to shield the records in question from the public comes after a federal judge mandated in July that the agency must turn over documents related to Biden’s order to the Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA), which sued the DOJ back in April after its officials failed to respond to FGA’s July 2021 open records requests. While the DOJ ultimately turned over a few of the records to FGA last month, the documents were heavily redacted and did not include the DOJ’s 15-page “strategic plan” on how the agency intends to comply with Biden’s executive order.
In their Thursday legal filing arguing for a summary judgment, the DOJ claimed that its Civil Rights Division (CRT) “has submitted a reasonably specific declaration” describing the search that CRT “conducted for records responsive to FGA’s [Freedom of Information Act] request” and that documents withheld or redacted by the DOJ are protected under the “presidential communications privilege.”
“The presidential communications privilege applies to the Strategic Plan because it was ‘solicited and received by the President[’s] . . . immediate White House advisers with broad and significant responsibility for investigating and formulating the advice to be given the President’ regarding voting rights issues,” the DOJ filing reads. “The Strategic Plan therefore falls squarely within the scope of the presidential communications privilege.”
Most notable in the agency’s arguments, however, is the contention that the release of the information requested by FGA would cause “public confusion” and that “such public confusion would result from disclosure of the Strategic Plan because it contains many proposed actions that the public might construe as ‘future commitments, past actions, or provisions already in place.’”
“DOJ therefore properly withheld the Strategic Plan in its entirety,” the agency claimed.
In response to the DOJ’s continued coverup, FGA President and CEO Tarren Bragdon issued a statement blasting the agency’s behavior, saying that it’s “clear” that Biden’s administration “has weaponized DOJ to hide records and is using the legal process to run out the clock before the midterm elections.”
“DOJ offered flimsy excuses to justify concealing key information regarding their participation in government-funded ‘get out the vote’ efforts,” Bragdon said. “FGA will not stop fighting to uncover these records and expose the full scope of the Biden administration’s mass voter registration scheme. The law and the American people are on our side.”
As reported by Federalist Editor-in-Chief Mollie Hemingway, Biden’s executive order isn’t just unethical and unconstitutional, but “a recipe for chaos, confusion, and fraud at a time when election security concerns are particularly fraught.”
“Executive Order 14019 ignores that the Constitution does not give the executive branch authority over elections. That power is reserved for the states, with a smaller role for Congress,” Hemingway explained. Considering that “H.R. 1 and other Democrat Party efforts to grab more control over elections have thus far failed,” she added, “Congress hasn’t authorized such an expansion.”
With the 2022 midterms rapidly approaching, the Biden DOJ has since been ramping up its efforts to intervene in elections under the guise of targeting voter “intimidation” in various states across the country. Most recently, the DOJ’s district attorney in New Hampshire, Jane Young, appointed Assistant U.S. Attorney Seth R. Aframe to “lead the efforts of her office in connection with the Justice Department’s nationwide Election Day Program” for the November elections.
“The Department of Justice has an important role in deterring and combatting discrimination and intimidation at the polls, threats of violence directed at election officials and poll workers, and election fraud,” an agency press release read. “The Department will address these violations wherever they occur.”
Shawn Fleetwood is a Staff Writer for The Federalist and a graduate of the University of Mary Washington. He also serves as a state content writer for Convention of States Action and his work has been featured in numerous outlets, including RealClearPolitics, RealClearHealth, and Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @ShawnFleetwood
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