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Judicial Watch, Inc. v. DOJ, No. 17-0916, 2018 WL 707430 (D.D.C. Feb. 5, 2018) (Cooper, J.)


Judicial Watch, Inc. v. DOJ, No. 17-0916, 2018 WL 707430 (D.D.C. Feb. 5, 2018) (Cooper, J.)

Re: Request for records concerning "'collection of memoranda prepared by former British intelligence operative Christopher Steele during the 2016 presidential election concerning then-candidate Donald J. Trump'"

Disposition: Granting defendant's motion for summary judgment; denying plaintiff's motion for summary judgment

  • Exemptions 1, 3, 6, 7(A), 7(C) & 7(D), Glomar:  The court holds that "the Department has provided a detailed affidavit from an FBI employee that sufficiently justifies all of the asserted exemptions."  The court relates that "[plaintiff] mainly argues that the FBI has publicly acknowledged the requested records’ existence, thereby defeating its Glomar response."  "As evidence of public acknowledgment, [plaintiff] points exclusively to an October 21, 2017 tweet from President Trump's personal Twitter account that reads: 'Officials behind the now discredited "Dossier" plead the Fifth. Justice Department and/or FBI should immediately release who paid for it.'"  The court finds that, "[c]learly, this tweet does not publicly and officially acknowledge the existence of any documents related to the first and third parts of [plaintiff's] FOIA request – which sought records of communication between the FBI and Mr. Steele and records produced in preparation for any meetings or conversations between the FBI and Mr. Steele."  "Nor does it constitute an official acknowledgment of any documents within the scope of the second part of [plaintiff's] request, which seeks documents related to 'the proposed, planned, or actual payment of any funds to Mr. Steel and/or Orbis Business Intelligence[.]'"  "[T]he FBI has consistently and reasonably interpreted that request as seeking documents related to payments by the FBI to Mr. Steel or his company."  "While the President's tweet could arguably suggest that the FBI has some records concerning who paid for the Trump Dossier, it does not acknowledge that there are records that the FBI paid for it."
Court Decision Topic(s)
District Court opinions
Exemption 1
Exemption 3
Exemption 6
Exemption 7(A)
Exemption 7(C)
Exemption 7(D)
Updated December 2, 2021