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Judicial Watch, Inc. v. Dep't of State, No. 13-772, 2019 WL 4228341 (D.D.C. Sept. 5, 2019) (Kollar-Kotelly, J.)

Date

Judicial Watch, Inc. v. Dep't of State, No. 13-772, 2019 WL 4228341 (D.D.C. Sept. 5, 2019) (Kollar-Kotelly, J.)

Re:  Request for records concerning former President Bill Clinton's speaking engagements and financial ties

Disposition:  Granting in part and holding in abeyance in part defendant's motion for summary judgment; granting in part and holding in abeyance in part plaintiff's cross-motion for summary judgment

  • Exemption 5, Presidential Communications Privilege:  "With one potential exception, the Court has concluded that Defendant's redactions are entitled to protection under the presidential communications privilege."  The court relates that "the sole issue before the Court is whether the redactions to seven of former Secretary Clinton's daily schedules fall under FOIA Exemption 5."  The court finds that "an entry on Secretary Clinton's schedule reflecting a meeting with the President or an immediate White House advisor at a particular time could give away sensitive information about its contents."  "More specifically, the Secretary's participation in a meeting of the NSC or one of its sub-units on a particular date and time – particularly if accompanied by a list of other attendees – threatens to divulge national security-sensitive information."  The court finds that "the events on Secretary Clinton's calendars presumably would involve advice to the President or his immediate White House advisors to guide their development of policies."  "Plaintiff has not given the Court any reason to believe that the events themselves consist of '"opinions and interpretations which embody [an] agency's effective law and policy."'"  "The Court . . . analyze[s] the specific redactions . . . and . . . redact[s] this discussion from the public version of this Memorandum Opinion for national-security purposes."  Following that analysis, "[t]he Court shall provide Defendant with an opportunity to submit an ex parte filing describing the context of [one] redaction that the Court has questioned . . . ."
     
  • Litigation Considerations, "Reasonably Segregable" Requirements:  The court holds that "[t]he presidential communications privilege protects the entirety of a document to which it applies."  "It seems to follow, a fortiori, that a redaction protected under this privilege need not be parsed for segregable material."
     
Court Decision Topic(s)
District Court opinions
Exemption 5
Exemption 5, Other Considerations
Litigation Considerations, “Reasonably Segregable” Requirements
Updated December 17, 2021