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This request is permanently embargoed.

Trump Jr - Assange

Emma North-Best filed this request with the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the United States of America.
Tracking #

1382452-000, DOJ-AP-2018-000283



From: Emma Best

To Whom It May Concern:

This is a request under the Freedom of Information Act. I hereby request the following records:

Materials relating to the contacts between Julian Assange and Donald J. Trump Jr., as confirmed to exist by Julian Assange himself. As both are public figures and there is an overriding public interest due to the President's son being in contact with the head of what CIA has labelled a "hostile intelligence service." This is especially true since, according to Julian Assange, he attempted to solicit materials from the President's son and he communicated with him on the matter they are alleged, by some, to have colluded on. This material will be disseminated to MuckRock's thousands of readers and beyond, which clearly serves a public interest well beyond my own.

Please conduct a search of the Central Records System, including but not limited to the ELSUR Records System, the Microphone Surveillance (MISUR) Indices, the Physical Surveillance (FISUR) Indices, and the Technical Surveillance (TESUR) Indices, for both main-file records and cross-reference records for all relevant names, individuals, agencies and companies. If any potentially responsive records have been destroyed and/or transferred to NARA, then I request copies of the destruction or transfer slips as well as any other documentation relating to, mentioning or describing said transfer or destruction, to include but not be limited to confirmation that the Bureau has no other copies of said records (as the Bureau has posted copies of records that it previously said were transferred to NARA such as the Tokyo Rose file).

I am a member of the news media and request classification as such. I am freelance writer who has previously written about the government and its activities for MuckRock, Motherboard, Unicorn Riot, AND Magazine and Glomar Disclosure. My articles have been widely read, with some reaching over 100,000 readers. My work has been further discussed in outlets including the New York Times, the Washington Post, and BBC. As such, as I have a reasonable expectation of publication and my editorial and writing skills are well established. In addition, I discuss and comment on the files online and make them available through the non-profit Internet Archive, disseminating them to a large audience. While my research is not limited to this, a great deal of it, including this, focuses on the activities and attitudes of the government itself. As such, it is not necessary for me to demonstrate the relevance of this particular subject in advance. Additionally, case law states that “proof of the ability to disseminate the released information to a broad cross-section of the public is not required.” Judicial Watch, Inc. v. Dep’t of Justice, 365 F.3d 1108, 1126 (D.C. Cir. 2004); see Carney v. U.S. Dep’t of Justice, 19 F.3d 807, 814-15 (2d Cir. 1994). Further, courts have held that "qualified because it also had “firm” plans to “publish a number of . . . ‘document sets’” concerning United States foreign and national security policy." Under this criteria, as well, I qualify as a member of the news media. Additionally, courts have held that the news media status "focuses on the nature of the requester, not its request. The provision requires that the request be “made by” a representative of the news media. Id. § 552(a)(4)(A)(ii)(II). A newspaper reporter, for example, is a representative of the news media regardless of how much interest there is in the story for which he or she is requesting information." As such, the details of the request itself are moot for the purposes of determining the appropriate fee category. As such, my primary purpose is to inform about government activities by reporting on it and making the raw data available and I therefore request that fees be waived. Per DOJ FOIA guidance, "a requester should be granted a fee waiver if the requested information (1) sheds light on the activities and operations of the government; (2) is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of those operations and activities; and (3) is not primarily in the commercial interest of the requester." As this FOIA meets all of those requirements (see above regarding the subject and how I will apply the information), a fee waiver is warranted.

The requested documents will be made available to the general public, and this request is not being made for commercial purposes.

In the event that there are fees, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 20 business days, as the statute requires.


Emma Best

From: Federal Bureau of Investigation

An acknowledgement letter, stating the request is being processed.

From: Federal Bureau of Investigation

A fix is required to perfect the request.

From: Federal Bureau of Investigation

The request has been rejected, with the agency stating that it can neither confirm nor deny the existence of the requested documents.

From: Emma Best

I am appealing the b6 and b7C GLOMAR denial which refuses to process the request due to the fact that the parties are still alive. I further appeal the FBI's decision to ignore the public interest argument which was including in the initial request, and is expanded upon below. While the Bureau might have been justified in denying the request in its entirety under exemption b7A, it opted not to do this. In failing to even search, the Bureau has not made a good faith effort to locate and releasable and segregable information.

The initial public interest is amply demonstrated by the response to the revelation itself. As shown in the attachment, the Julian Assange statement that he had been in contact with Donald Trump Jr. His initial tweet has, as of the date of the filing of this appeal, received in excess of 4,900 Retweets. This alone demonstrates widespread interest.

The interest is further demonstrated by the exceptional media coverage of the revelation, as documented in the over 130 pages of news articles and comments on the revelation.

The lack of a privacy consideration is demonstration by the fact that both figures have spoken out publicly on the matter, citing a desire to be up front and transparent. Donald Trump Jr. released the emails publicly, and Assange publicly commented on their communications. There is no expectation of privacy here, and the investigation of WikiLeaks (run by Assange, who was acting on WikiLeaks' behalf when contacting Donald Trump Jr.) has been publicly confirmed. Similarly, the investigation into the Donald Trump Campaign has been confirmed by the FBI and the Department of Justice, publicly and in the response to the appeal for FOIPA Request No. 1362988-000 in Appeal No. DOJ-AP-2017-002917. As this email exchange and the discussions about it are a continuation of several matters known to be under investigation, no privacy interest is served by refusing to confirm or deny any FBI knowledge of or potential interest in these exchanges.

Finally, I am appealing the FBI's determination that either case law or statute prohibit the Bureau from so much as attempting to locate responsive records to specific, known public events due to privacy concerns. Far from seeking any and all records on the two named individuals, the request specifically sought records relating to publicly confirmed communications between the two. While b7A interests might well be protected in refusing to produce such documents, b6 and b7C interests are not.

From: Federal Bureau of Investigation

The request has been rejected by the agency.

From: Federal Bureau of Investigation

10/18/2017 03:03 PM FOIA Request: DOJ-AP-2018-000283

From: Federal Bureau of Investigation

DOJ-AP-2018-000283 has been processed with the following final disposition: Affirmed on Appeal.

  • Best, Emma, DOJ-AP-2018-000283, FBI, Response letter, Affirm 6, 7C Glomar