Here’s a look at the investigations our team has been pursuing through public records requests in the last week:
Presidential Transition Emails
This week, Emily Murphy, the head of the General Services Administration, alerted President-elect Joe Biden that the agency was ready to begin the official presidential transition process, in a letter indicating the GSA’s formal acknowledgment of Biden’s victory. Per Office of Management and Budget protocol, agency leaders must help facilitate the presidential transition by designating transition directors to work with the incoming administration. We filed FOIA requests for email communications sent by Trump administration transition directors appointed at multiple federal agencies.
Cybersecurity Leadership Fired After Election Security Comments
Last week, President Donald Trump fired Chris Krebs, director of the DHS Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). CISA Deputy Director Matt Travis was pressured to resign shortly thereafter. Krebs and Travis were removed from their positions after Krebs publicly shared a statement from election officials and experts that there was no evidence that the 2020 presidential election “was in any way compromised.” We sent FOIA requests to DHS for memos written by Krebs and Travis, DHS officials’ communications with the White House about Krebs, and for other related communications.
Trump Appointees Hunting for Voter Fraud
According to reporting by the Washington Post, several Trump administration appointees have taken leave from their official roles to work with the Voter Integrity Fund, a recently formed Virginia-based group analyzing data on millions of voters in an effort to substantiate Trump’s false claims of widespread voter fraud. Among these appointees are OMB Chief Information Security Officer Camilo Sandoval and Interior Department adviser Thomas Baptiste. We filed FOIA requests to OMB and the Department of the Interior for records related to Sandoval’s and Baptiste’s leaves of absence.
Potential violations of federal record preservation laws have emerged as a major concern during the Trump administration’s final two months in office. The Presidential Records Act requires that the archivist of the United States be notified before the disposal of any presidential records, so as to ensure the stewardship of documents with historical or evidentiary value. We filed FOIA requests to the National Archives and Records Administration for White House communications and notifications concerning any such record destruction.
Michigan Canvasser Contact with Trump
On Nov. 17, Michigan’s deadline for counties to certify presidential election results, the Wayne County Board of Canvassers was stuck in a 2–2 deadlock along partisan lines. After widespread criticism, the two Republican holdouts reversed course and voted in favor of certifying the results that night, but later signed affidavits saying they regretted their votes and were coerced by “intense bullying.” Recent reporting indicates that Trump called at least one of the canvassers the same night of the vote. We filed records requests to Wayne County for records of board members’ communications, including text messages, with external groups and Trump.
Texas National Guard Deployment
News reports emerged the week before the election that the Texas National Guard would be deployed to cities across the state to respond to potential post-election demonstrations. Following these reports, Maj. Gen. Tracy Norris, the Texas National Guard’s adjutant general, tweeted on Oct. 26 that “there has been no request nor plan to provide any type of support at any polling location in Texas.” We want to know more about any law enforcement plans prepared ahead of the election, so we sent records requests to the Texas Military Department for communications and directives regarding any such potential deployment.
Part of Investigation: