According to a statement posted to their website this Tuesday, VICE News is suing the FBI and demanding that they release details on their “curious disclosures, behind-the-scenes actions, and apparent leaks” that trickled from the agency in the days leading up to Election Day in November.
The news outlet’s Freedom of Information Act lawsuit was filed on Tuesday in conjunction with Ryan Shapiro, a doctoral candidate at MIT and research affiliate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University.
Earlier this month, VICE News and Shapiro filed more than 50 FOIA requests with the FBI seeking documents about the bureau’s discussions regarding Donald Trump, along with other documents that would shed light on the FBI’s decision a week before the election to tweet newly posted records from a long-dormant Twitter account about Bill Clinton’s 2000 pardon of financier Marc Rich.
The FOIA lawsuit requests the following information:
1. Allegations of the FBI violating the Hatch Act by allegedly using its authority to influence the course of the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
2. Internal discontent at the FBI regarding the bureau’s Hillary Clinton investigations.
3. All leaks of information by the FBI to the media and political operatives about FBI investigations of Clinton.
4. All FBI communications with Breitbart News; Breitbart executive chairman Steve Bannon, who Trump named his chief strategist and White House counselor after Bannon served as his campaign CEO; former Trump campaign manager Corey R. Lewandowski, Fox News, and Fox News hosts Bret Baier and Sean Hannity; former New York City mayor and Trump adviser Rudy Giuliani; and Republican strategist and Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone.
5. White nationalist Richard Spencer, his National Policy Institute, and the “alt-right.”
VICE News adds that the lawsuit seeks “public disclosure of specified government records to make sense of the pivotal role of the FBI, as well as of other agencies, in perhaps the most controversial presidential election in modern U.S. history.”
“Despite subsequent disclosures of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, since its inception, the FBI staunchly maintained it was a purely apolitical entity,” the lawsuit states. “However, numerous leading political and news media figures from across the political spectrum explicitly assert the FBI repeatedly and with significant impact affected the outcome of the 2016 U.S. Presidential election.”
Two weeks ago, the FBI responded to VICE’s lawsuit, and would neither confirm or deny that the information requested exists.
“Accordingly, the FBI cannot confirm or deny the existence of any such records about your subject as the mere acknowledgment of such records existence or nonexistence would in and of itself trigger foreseeable harm to agency interests,” the FBI’s letter said.
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