Trump transition team communications to federal agencies (Department of Agriculture)

Andrew McGill filed this request with the Department of Agriculture of the United States of America.
Status
Completed

Communications

From: Andrew McGill

To Whom It May Concern:

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

— Any written communication directed to the agency’s executive leadership from a member of the Trump administration transition team, the Trump campaign, or a member of the Trump family, and received on or after Nov. 9, 2016. Written communication includes letters and memos. Members of the Trump family include Donald Trump, Melania Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, Eric Trump, Tiffany Trump, and Jared Kushner.
— All electronic correspondence received by an agency employee on or after Nov. 9, 2016 from any email address originating from the following domains: “donaldtrump.com”, “donaldjtrump.com” or “ptt.gov.”

I’m a member of the news media, and as such, this request is made as part of news gathering and not for commercial use. As a journalist, I request a waiver of all fees, as the disclosure of the requested information is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations or activities of the government and is not primarily in my commercial interest. Communications and requests from the incoming administration to federal agencies signal policy directions and are of immediate public interest.

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.

Sincerely,

Andrew McGill

From: USDAFOIA - OCIO

Good Evening, Mr. McGill:

This email acknowledges receipt of your below Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Department FOIA Office (DFO). Your request was received in this office on January 5, 2016.

The DFO is under the purview of the Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) and serves as the focal point for USDA’s FOIA program. The DFO provides coordination and ensures agency wide compliance with the FOIA. The DFO processes requests and appeals on behalf of the Office of the Secretary and Departmental Management’s (“DM”) components. For a complete listing of DM’s components, please visit http://www.dm.usda.gov/agencies.htm.

After careful review of your FOIA request, the DFO determined that your request is too broad in scope or did not specifically identify the records which you are seeking. Records must be described in reasonably sufficient detail to enable government employees who are familiar with the subject area to locate records without placing an unreasonable burden upon the agency. See 7 C.F.R. § 1.5(b). Where possible, a requester should supply specific information regarding dates, titles, names of individuals, names of offices, and name of agencies or organizations that may help identify the records. The FOIA does not require an agency to create new records, answer questions posed by requesters, or attempt to interpret a request that does not identify specific records.

Please resubmit your request containing a reasonable description of the records you are seeking. In this instance, for items 1 & 2 of your request, please provide the names of “the agency’s executive leadership” and any USDA agency employees who you believe corresponded with the following domains: “donaldtrump.com”, “donaldjtrump.com” or “ptt.gov.” For item 1, if you cannot provide the names of “the agency’s executive leadership,” a general search of USDA’s Executive Correspondence Management System will be conducted. We will also conduct a search of USDA’s internal Presidential Transition Team members. For item 2, you will need to provide the names of USDA agency employees, so that we can conduct a search of each email system. Unfortunately, we are unable to conduct a broad sweeping search of all USDA employees’ email systems.

If the DFO does not hear from you within 10 business days from the date of this email, we will assume you are no longer interested in this FOIA request, and the case will be administratively closed. Please be advised that this action is not a denial of your request and will not preclude you from filing other requests in the future.

Your request has been assigned FOIA Case No. 2017-OSEC-01343-F. Please refer to this case number in any future correspondence. If you have any questions regarding the processing of this request, please contact Department FOIA Team Lead, Marqui Q. Barnes at 202-694-1802 or electronically at marqui.barnes@ocio.usda.gov<mailto:marqui.barnes@ocio.usda.gov> or USDAFOIA@ocio.usda.gov<mailto:USDAFOIA@ocio.usda.gov>. For additional information regarding USDA FOIA regulations and process, please refer to the information available on-line at www.dm.usda.gov/foia<http://www.dm.usda.gov/foia>.

We appreciate the opportunity to assist you in this matter.

Have a great day!
USDA Department FOIA Office Staff
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From: Andrew McGill

Hello —

Thanks for your prompt reply to my request.

Given that the e-mail search is beyond your technical capability at this time, I withdraw the second bullet point of my request.

As for narrowing down which executive members to query for my first bullet point, I agree with your terms: "a general search of USDA’s Executive Correspondence Management System will be conducted. We will also conduct a search of USDA’s internal Presidential Transition Team members."

Thank you,

Andrew

From: USDAFOIA - OCIO

Thank you for your prompt response! We will move forward in conducting a search for responsive records.

Have a great day!
the USDA Department FOIA Office

From: Barnes, Marqui - OCIO

Good Morning, Mr. McGill:

I am the Senior FOIA Analyst that has been assigned to process your recent FOIA request. At your convenience, can you clarify the following questions:

1. Can we exclude email newsletters that mention any of the terms?
2. Can we exclude emails located using one of the search terms where it's not about the President or his Administration?
Please feel free to offer any additional information that would assist me in further identifying any potentially responsive records. I am currently working on sorting & determining the responsiveness of the emailed files provided by our IT provider.

Thanking you in advance for your forthcoming response.

Have a great day!

Marqui

(Ms.) Marqui Q. Barnes, CIPP/G
Department FOIA Team Lead
Department FOIA Office
USDA/OCIO/PE&F
(202) 694-1802 (desk)
marqui.barnes@ocio.usda.gov<mailto:marqui.barnes@ocio.usda.gov>

From: Andrew McGill

Hi Marqui --

I'm fine with your first suggestion -- removing newsletters.

As for the second, can you give me an example of the content you'd be looking to discard? Are we talking about personal correspondence between Dept. of Ag. staff and people with donaldjtrump.com email addresses? I'd likely still want those to be included in the request

Thanks!

Andrew

From: Barnes, Marqui - OCIO

Thanks so much, Andrew, for your prompt response! I appreciate it.

With regard to the second item below, we conducted a search for responsive records in the email accounts of USDA’s Presidential Transition Executive Leadership Officials using the following keywords: “Trump,” “Kushner,” “ppt.gov,” “Leftwich,” & “Klippenstein.” These keywords were retrieved from your description of the requested records; along with any information the Department FOIA Office has that would further assist in locating/identifying responsive records. In this instance, we are aware that Mr. Joel Leftwich and Mr. Brian Klippenstein were both charged with leading the President’s Landing Team here at USDA.

Because our search involved retrieving all emails were particular keywords were used, there may be instances where a keyword (i.e. Trump) is used, but not in the same defined manner as utilized in the scope of your request. “Trump” may have been written, but not refer to the current President at all.

Nonetheless, please disregard at this time as I am unable to locate a sample record. However, if a sample record is located, I will promptly forward to you for review.

Again, I appreciate your assistance! And I hope to have a response for you very soon.

Have a good afternoon,

Marqui

(Ms.) Marqui Q. Barnes, CIPP/G
Department FOIA Team Lead
Department FOIA Office
USDA/OCIO/PE&F
(202) 694-1802 (desk)
marqui.barnes@ocio.usda.gov<mailto:marqui.barnes@ocio.usda.gov>

From: Andrew McGill

Ah! I see. Someone using "trump" as a verb, etc.

In that case, I'm fine with excluding records not referring to the president, his administration or the transition team.

Andrew

From: Barnes, Marqui - OCIO

Ok, great. Thanks so much, Andrew! I’ll be in touch soon.
Best,

Marqui

From: Barnes, Marqui - OCIO

Good Morning, Mr. McGill:

Your case is currently under review. I expect to have a response out to you soon.

I appreciate your patience. Please let me know if you have any further concerns.

Regards,

Marqui

(Ms.) Marqui Q. Barnes, CIPP/G
Department FOIA Team Lead
Department FOIA Office
USDA/OCIO/PE&F
(202) 694-1802 (desk)
marqui.barnes@ocio.usda.gov<mailto:marqui.barnes@ocio.usda.gov>

From: Barnes, Marqui - OCIO

Good Afternoon, Mr. McGill:

Please see attached final response letter, and corresponding responsive records, to your recent FOIA request.

Should you have any questions/concerns please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Best regards,

Marqui

(Ms.) Marqui Q. Barnes, CIPP/G
Department FOIA Team Lead
Department FOIA Office
USDA/OCIO/PE&F
(202) 694-1802 (desk)
marqui.barnes@ocio.usda.gov<mailto:marqui.barnes@ocio.usda.gov>

From: Andrew McGill

Thank you very much!

From: Internet, FOIA

Good afternoon, Mr. McGill:

Attached is the acknowledgment letter for the referral from the U.S. Department of Agriculture of your January 5, 2017 FOIA request.

Office of the Chief Information Officer
Freedom of Information Act
Requester Service Center
Telephone: (202) 606-3642
E-mail: FOIA@opm.gov<mailto:FOIA@opm.gov>

From: Adams-Akere, Shonda L

Good afternoon Mr. McGill:

The response to OPM FOIA 2017-04459 is attached. Please let me know if you have any difficulty with the file.

Shonda L. Adams-Akere
Freedom of Information Act
Office of the Chief Information Officer
Telephone: (202) 606-1585
E-mail: Shonda.Adams-Akere@opm.gov<mailto:Shonda.Adams-Akere@opm.gov>

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