Lawsuit over Administration’s Unlawful Seizure of Trump-Putin Meeting Notes Moves Forward

A federal judge on Wednesday rejected the government’s attempt to dismiss a lawsuit alleging that the administration had committed a serious violation of federal records laws after a 2017 meeting between President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The meeting between the two heads of state took place at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, and was also attended by then–Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and a State Department interpreter. After the meeting, Trump reportedly seized the interpreter’s notes and told the interpreter not to discuss what had been talked about.

Democracy Forward and American Oversight sued the administration, including the State Department, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the National Archives and Records Administration, and the U.S. Archivist, for failing to preserve the notes as required by the Federal Records Act. That law requires the State Department to notify the National Archives when meeting notes are seized or destroyed, to try to recover the notes, and to refer the incident to the attorney general for enforcement action.

In his ruling on Wednesday, Judge Trevor McFadden of the District Court for the District of Columbia said that Democracy Forward and American Oversight had plausibly alleged an unlawful removal of official records, and denied the government’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit.

“The administration has done everything it can to hide what Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump discussed in Hamburg,” said Austin Evers, executive director of American Oversight. “Today’s ruling is an important step to ensuring the government complied with its legal obligations.”

Trump’s meetings with Putin have often been shrouded in secrecy. Less than a year after Trump’s alleged note-snatching in Hamburg, the two leaders kicked out everyone except interpreters during a meeting in Helsinki, Finland. And during a meeting with the Russian foreign minister and ambassador in May 2017, before his trip to Hamburg, Trump had revealed highly classified information about a terrorism plot.

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Department of Defense, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Department of Labor, Department of State, Department of the Interior, Department of the Treasury, DHS - United States Secret Service, DOI - Fish and Wildlife Service, HHS - Centers For Medicare and Medicaid Services, HHS - Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, White House - Office of Management and Budget
February 21, 2020

New Lawsuit Seeks Records of Mitch McConnell’s Influence at Transportation, Energy, State Departments

Department of Energy, Department of State, Department of Transportation
February 21, 2020

When the Government Uses Redactions to Hide Evidence of Wrongdoing

Department of Defense, Department of Justice, White House - Office of Management and Budget
February 20, 2020

Records from Trump’s Presidential Pardons Advisory Committee Must Be Available to the Public

February 14, 2020

News Roundup: Trump Has Learned His ‘Lesson’

Central Intelligence Agency, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Department of Defense, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Justice, Department of State, Department of the Treasury, Department of Transportation, DOJ - Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys, DOJ - Office of Information Policy, Federal Reserve, Florida House of Representatives, Florida Senate, Georgia - Cobb County, Georgia - DeKalb County, Georgia - Fulton County, Georgia - Gwinnett County, Georgia Secretary of State, HHS - Centers For Medicare and Medicaid Services, Kentucky Office of the Governor, U.S. Election Assistance Commission, Wisconsin Senate, Wisconsin State Assembly
February 14, 2020

New Lawsuit Seeks Records of Complaints About Mike Pompeo’s Conduct

Central Intelligence Agency, Department of State
February 11, 2020

The Facts Are Still Coming Out

Department of Defense, White House - Office of Management and Budget
February 11, 2020

The Ukraine Investigation’s Unanswered Questions

Congress, Department of Energy, Department of Justice, Department of State
February 10, 2020

Ukraine Investigation Update: Volker Text Messages

Department of State
February 7, 2020

News Roundup: Acquittal Isn’t the End

Department of Energy, Department of Justice, Department of State, Florida Department of State, Georgia - Cobb County, Georgia - DeKalb County, Georgia - Fulton County, Georgia - Gwinnett County, Georgia Secretary of State, White House - Office of Management and Budget
February 6, 2020

The Investigation Continues: New Lawsuit Seeks Pence Ukraine Records

Department of State
February 5, 2020

Statement on Senate Impeachment Vote: Oversight Must and Will Continue

Congress
February 4, 2020

Energy Department Releases New Batch of Ukraine Documents

Department of Energy
January 31, 2020

News Roundup: Hear No Evil, See No Evil

Department of Defense, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Department of State, DOJ - Executive Office for Immigration Review, DOJ - Federal Bureau of Prisons, HHS - Centers For Medicare and Medicaid Services, Texas - Harris County, Texas Office of the Governor
January 31, 2020

Lifted Redactions Reveal August 2019 Esper Communications About Zelensky, Ukraine Assistance

Department of Defense, White House - Office of Management and Budget
January 28, 2020

Energy Department Releases Ukraine Documents to American Oversight

Department of Energy
January 27, 2020

American Oversight Is Investigating Impeachment Adviser Pam Bondi’s Communications with State Department Official

Department of State
January 24, 2020

News Roundup: Evidence of Obstruction

Department of Defense, Department of Justice, Department of State, Department of Transportation, DOT - Federal Aviation Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Communications Commission, Georgia - Clayton County, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Tennessee Valley Authority, Texas Attorney General, Texas Office of the Governor, Texas Secretary of State, Texas Senate, White House - Office of Management and Budget
January 22, 2020

OMB Releases 192 Pages of Ukraine Records to American Oversight

White House - Office of Management and Budget
January 17, 2020

News Roundup: The Evidence Continues to Mount

Department of Agriculture, Department of Defense, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Justice, Department of State, Environmental Protection Agency, Georgia - Clayton County, Georgia - Hancock County, Georgia - Jefferson County, HHS - Centers For Medicare and Medicaid Services
January 15, 2020

Updated Timeline: Messages About Yovanovitch Surveillance Happened Same Week as Giuliani-Pompeo Calls

Department of State
January 13, 2020

Energy Department Agrees to Release Ukraine Documents This Month

Department of Energy
January 10, 2020

State Department’s Release of Volker Calendars and Text Messages Raises Further Questions

Department of State
January 10, 2020

News Roundup: Presidential War Powers and New Impeachment Documents

Department of Education, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Justice, Department of Labor, Department of State, Department of the Treasury, Department of Veterans Affairs, Environmental Protection Agency, Florida - Hernando County, Florida - Nassau County, Florida - Okaloosa County, Florida - Seminole County, Florida Department of Corrections, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Florida Department of State, Florida Office of the Governor, HHS - Centers For Medicare and Medicaid Services, White House - Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
January 10, 2020

In the Documents: Investigating the Trump Administration’s Legal Analyses for Potential Use of Force Against Iran

Department of State
January 8, 2020

State Department Releases Additional Ukraine Documents to American Oversight

Department of State
January 7, 2020

Did the Trump Administration Abuse the Redactions Process?

Department of Defense, White House - Office of Management and Budget
December 27, 2019

American Oversight’s 2019 in Review: Nine Important Stories We Uncovered

December 21, 2019

Defense Department Ukraine Documents Released to American Oversight

Department of Defense
December 20, 2019

News Roundup: Beyond Impeachment — The Investigations Continue

Congress, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Department of Defense, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Department of State, Department of the Interior, Department of Transportation, DHS - Immigration and Customs Enforcement, DHS - U.S. Customs and Border Protection, DOL - Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission, Federal Communications Commission, Government Accountability Office, HHS - Administration for Children and Families, HHS - Food and Drug Administration, White House - Office of Management and Budget
December 18, 2019

Why Trump Has Met the Standard for Obstruction of Congress

Congress, Department of Defense, Department of State
December 13, 2019

News Roundup: Stephen Miller’s Extremist Network

Congress, Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, Department of State, Department of the Interior, Department of the Treasury, DHS - Immigration and Customs Enforcement, DOI - Bureau of Land Management, DOI - Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, Environmental Protection Agency, Georgia - Carroll County, Texas Attorney General, Treasury - Office of Foreign Assets Control, White House - Office of Management and Budget
December 12, 2019

American Oversight Sues for Treasury Communications About Russian Investment in Kentucky Plant

Department of the Treasury, Treasury - Office of Foreign Assets Control
December 6, 2019

News Roundup: Impeachment Report, Border Wall Contracts, and Pompeo’s Meeting with GOP Donors

Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Department of State
December 3, 2019

House Committee Impeachment Report References State Department Documents Obtained by American Oversight

November 27, 2019

News Roundup: Thankful for FOIA

Department of Agriculture, Department of Education, Department of Energy, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Department of State, Kentucky Office of the Governor, USDA - Food Safety and Inspection Service
November 27, 2019

Behind the Scenes: How American Oversight Forced the Release of State Department Ukraine Records

Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Department of Energy, Department of Justice, Department of State, Department of the Treasury, White House - Office of Management and Budget
November 25, 2019

American Oversight Sues Justice Department for Ukraine-Related Communications

Department of Justice
November 22, 2019

State Department Releases Ukraine Documents to American Oversight

Department of State
November 22, 2019

News Roundup: Fiona Hill’s Warnings, Nikki Haley’s Emails, and Matt Bevin’s Stay at Trump’s Hotel

Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Department of State, DHS - Immigration and Customs Enforcement, DOJ - Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys, Kentucky Office of the Governor
November 21, 2019

Nikki Haley Sent Classified Emails on an Unclassified Email System

Department of State
November 20, 2019

Sondland’s Testimony Highlights State Department Obstruction

Department of Energy, Department of State
November 15, 2019

News Roundup: Impeachment Inquiry Goes Public

Department of Energy, Department of Homeland Security, Department of State, Department of Veterans Affairs, Florida House of Representatives, Georgia - Bartow County, Georgia - Carroll County, Georgia - Decatur County, Georgia - Lowndes County, Georgia - Paulding County, Georgia Secretary of State, HHS - Centers For Medicare and Medicaid Services, Texas - Dallas County, Texas - Harris County, Texas - Travis County, White House - Council on Environmental Quality
November 14, 2019

How ‘Sharpiegate’ Turned a Simple Misunderstanding into a Media Frenzy — and Headache for NOAA Employees

Commerce - National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce
November 8, 2019

News Roundup: Ukraine-Related Documents, Hurdles for Asylum-Seekers, and Chad Wolf’s Involvement in Family Separation

Department of Agriculture, Department of Defense, Department of Education, Department of Energy, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Department of State, Department of the Interior, DOJ - Office of Information Policy, DOJ - Office of Legal Counsel, Environmental Protection Agency, Florida Office of the Governor, White House - Office of Management and Budget
November 7, 2019

What We Learned from the Yovanovitch and McKinley Transcripts

Congress, Department of State
October 31, 2019

State Department Agrees to Produce Ukraine Records to American Oversight by November 22

Department of State
October 25, 2019

News Roundup: Court Chips Away at Trump Administration Obstruction

October 24, 2019

Research Tool: Ukraine-Trump Key Figures and Documents

Department of Commerce, Department of Energy, Department of State, Department of the Treasury
October 23, 2019

Federal Judge Says He Will Order State Department to Begin Turning Over Requested Ukraine Documents

Department of State
October 22, 2019

New Lawsuit Seeks Perry and Brouillette Ukraine Documents and Communications about Biden Investigation Effort

Department of Energy
October 18, 2019

News Roundup: Corruption, Plain and Simple

Department of Defense, Department of Energy, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Department of State, DHS - U.S. Customs and Border Protection
October 18, 2019

Court Calls for Hearing on Emergency Motion for Ukraine Documents

Department of State
October 11, 2019

News Roundup: Impeachment, Obstruction, and More Questions about Rick Perry

Department of Education, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, DHS - U.S. Customs and Border Protection, HHS - Administration for Children and Families, HHS - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
October 4, 2019

News Roundup: The Public Needs Answers

Central Intelligence Agency, Department of Energy, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Department of Labor, Department of State
October 4, 2019

Pompeo’s Obstructionism Won’t Work

Department of State
October 2, 2019

Pompeo’s Letter Is the Trump Administration’s Opening Salvo of Obstruction

Department of State
October 1, 2019

We’re Suing the State Department for Giuliani-Ukraine Documents

Department of State
September 27, 2019

News Roundup: From the Top Down

Commerce - National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce, Department of Energy, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Department of State, Department of the Interior, DOI - Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, Florida - Collier County, White House - Council on Environmental Quality, White House - Office of Management and Budget
September 25, 2019

Release of Trump–Zelensky Call Readout Raises Questions About Justice Department Involvement

Department of Defense, Department of Justice, Department of State, Department of the Treasury, U.S. Agency for International Development
September 20, 2019

News Roundup: Trump, Giuliani, and Ukraine

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Justice, Department of State, Department of the Treasury, Department of Transportation, DHS - Immigration and Customs Enforcement, DHS - U.S. Customs and Border Protection, DOJ - Federal Bureau of Investigation, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Federal Reserve, HHS - Administration for Children and Families, HHS - National Institutes of Health, HHS - Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Texas - Starr County, Texas Attorney General, Texas Secretary of State, U.S. Agency for International Development, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
September 12, 2019

New Lawsuit Seeks State Department Records of Jared Kushner’s Middle East Trips

Department of State
June 7, 2019

News Roundup: Investigating Outside Influence and Political Appointments at the State Department

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Department of State, Department of Transportation, DHS - Federal Emergency Management Agency, Small Business Administration
March 12, 2019

Investigating the Trump Administration’s Efforts to Sell Nuclear Technology to Saudi Arabia

Commerce - International Trade Administration, Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Department of Energy, Department of State, Department of the Treasury, White House - Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
January 9, 2019

Investigating the Acting Defense Secretary’s Ties to Boeing

Department of Defense
December 12, 2018

Audit the Wall: No Plans, Funding or Timeline — And No Wall

Department of Homeland Security, Department of State, DHS - U.S. Customs and Border Protection
February 9, 2018

New Lawsuit Seeks DHS Border Wall Emails with White House, Fox News, Border States

Department of Homeland Security, DHS - U.S. Customs and Border Protection
December 17, 2017

Trump Transition GSA Emails and Memorandum of Understanding

General Services Administration
October 31, 2017

American Oversight Sues State Department for Records Showing Efforts to Compel Mexico to Pay for Border Wall

Department of State
October 17, 2017

5 Questions for Attorney General Sessions

Department of Justice
September 2, 2017

DOJ Confirms Trump Lied in “Wiretap” Tweets

Department of Justice, DOJ - Federal Bureau of Investigation
August 1, 2017

American Oversight Obtains Attorney General Sessions SF-86 Signature Page

Department of Justice
August 1, 2017

Statement on Waiver of Environmental Regulations for Border Wall

July 21, 2017

American Oversight Calls for Resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions

Department of Justice, DOJ - Federal Bureau of Investigation
July 13, 2017

DOJ Releases Redacted Page of Sessions’s SF-86 to American Oversight

Department of Justice, DOJ - Federal Bureau of Investigation
June 16, 2017

Watchdog Group Files Lawsuit on Trump Border Wall

Department of Homeland Security, Department of the Interior, DHS - U.S. Customs and Border Protection, White House - Office of Management and Budget
May 24, 2017

After American Oversight Lawsuit, DOJ Confirms that Sessions Lied about Russian Contacts

Department of Justice, DOJ - Federal Bureau of Investigation
May 16, 2017

American Oversight Demands Release of Comey-Trump Memos

Department of Justice, DOJ - Federal Bureau of Investigation
May 12, 2017

Letter to Burr and Warner: Senate Should Request Trump-Comey Tapes

Department of Justice, DOJ - Federal Bureau of Investigation
May 10, 2017

Statement on the Firing of FBI Director Comey

DOJ - Federal Bureau of Investigation
May 10, 2017

Ethics Watchdog Calls for IG Investigation of Sessions for Violating Recusal

Department of Justice, DOJ - Federal Bureau of Investigation
April 19, 2017

American Oversight Sues DOJ for Release of Trump Tower Wiretap Records, Russia Investigation Documents

Department of Justice, DOJ - Federal Bureau of Investigation, White House
March 28, 2017

Statement on Trump Administration Proposal to Build Border Wall South of Rio Grande

Department of the Interior
March 24, 2017

American Oversight Launches Investigation of President Trump’s Border Wall

Department of Homeland Security
March 22, 2017

Statement on Intelligence Committee Chairman Nunes’ Actions

March 17, 2017

American Oversight Calls on Congress to Investigate Trump Aide’s Reported Ties to Nazi Group

Office of Government Ethics, White House