On Monday, American Oversight sued the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM) for records that could shed light on one of the Trump administration’s more blatant attempts to politicize the work of a government agency.
The last six months of the former administration were turbulent for the USAGM, thanks to the actions of its then CEO, Michael Pack. In June 2020, Pack, a conservative documentary filmmaker and ally of former White House strategist Steve Bannon, took over the agency, which oversees Voice of America and other government-funded but journalistically independent media arms.
Among Pack’s first actions was the firing of multiple top agency leaders in what one former official called a “Wednesday night massacre,” as well as the dissolution of those media organizations’ boards of directors so as to install political allies of then-President Trump.
Alarm over what appeared to be an attempt to transform the agency into a pro-Trump propaganda machine intensified as Pack pursued investigations of reporters for alleged anti-Trump bias and refused to extend visas for foreign employees, implying they could be spies. In August 2020, after suspending top executives he had wanted to fire, Pack hired a high-profile law firm — at taxpayers’ expense — to investigate those executives.
Pack left office the day President Joe Biden was inaugurated, but questions remain about the extent of the damage unleashed by Trump appointees at USAGM. American Oversight’s lawsuit seeks the release of records we requested last year under the Freedom of Information Act — records including the calendars of Pack and other top officials, as well as their communications.
You can read more about our work holding the Trump administration accountable for its actions on our website.
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