On Wednesday, American Oversight sued the Central Intelligence Agency and the State Department for failing to release records related to the Trump administration’s controversial efforts to share nuclear technology with Saudi Arabia.
In 2019, multiple government employees came forward as whistleblowers to warn about efforts inside the Trump White House to rush the transfer of highly sensitive U.S. nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia, raising concerns that the actions were driven by personal interests of the president’s associates rather than in the best interests of U.S. foreign policy.
Last month, American Oversight filed Freedom of Information Act requests seeking records that would enable the public to assess the extent to which the Trump administration put personal and business ties ahead of national interests. The CIA’s and the State Department’s failure to release records in response to those requests prompted Wednesday’s lawsuit.
A 2019 report, released by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, summarized the whistleblowers’ complaints and described documents showing communications related to the nuclear technology proposal between White House officials and individuals close to President Donald Trump, including Michael Flynn, Thomas Barrack, and Rick Gates.
Gates, a former Trump campaign aide, pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy and lying to investigators during the Robert Mueller investigation; Barrack, a longtime Trump ally, faces trial in September for illegal lobbying on behalf of the United Arab Emirates. In October 2021, public reporting revealed that Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser, had hidden $200,000 in payments for his work on a 2014 plan to build 40 nuclear power plants in Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern nations.
In March, American Oversight filed FOIA requests with the CIA and State Department seeking communications between senior officials and individuals associated with the Saudi nuclear effort. Among other records, the requests sought communications between Mike Pompeo, who served as both secretary of state and director of the CIA, and Flynn, Barrack, Gates, and other individuals closely associated with former President Trump.
“Future historians inevitably will debate whether the Trump Doctrine was driven by corruption or incompetence,” said Melanie Sloan, American Oversight’s senior adviser. “In the here and now, the public needs to know whether this deal was in the interests of the pocketbooks of Trump cronies or the American people. The CIA and the State Department must comply with the law, and release the information to which the public is entitled.”
Wednesday’s lawsuit asks the court to compel the release of responsive records, which will allow the public to assess the extent to which the Trump administration put personal and business ties ahead of national interests.