News Roundup: ‘It’s Going to Sort of Just Disappear’

“I think that at some point, that it’s going to sort of just disappear, I hope.” That’s what President Donald Trump said about the coronavirus — not months ago, although he of course did say something similar back in February, but just this Wednesday.

Of course, the virus won’t “disappear” anytime soon, especially so long as the Trump administration continues its mix of wishful thinking and inadequate actions. Cases are surging across the country, particularly in states with leaders eager to toe the Trump line, and Dr. Anthony Fauci testified before Congress on Tuesday that the rate of infection could double from this week’s record to 100,000 new cases a day, putting “the entire country at risk.” Europe has decided to exclude U.S. travelers from its list of permitted visitors as it reopens its borders.

The Trump administration, however, continues to signal that it is not taking the pandemic seriously. This week, American Oversight obtained records from the Tulsa, Okla., health department showing that health officials had initially estimated that two to nine people would die as a direct result of Trump holding a campaign rally there two weeks ago. The “moderate” estimates were based on a projected crowd size of 19,000 — indoors, with few wearing masks — and while the attendance numbers were far lower (much to the president’s fury), it is startling to know the event took place despite such stark predictions from health officials.

While it is not yet known if anyone has died as a result of the rally, news reports indicated that eight Trump campaign staffers involved in the Tulsa event tested positive for Covid-19, and the campaign has canceled a number of in-person rallies. But Trump continues to not wear a mask in public, and his administration is preparing for various Fourth of July celebrations — including one at Mount Rushmore, over objections from tribal leaders — in which social distancing and mask-wearing will not be enforced.

American Oversight has filed hundreds of public records requests to learn more about the Trump administration’s efforts and about how different states have responded to the pandemic in the absence of decisive federal leadership. And this week, we sued the Treasury Department for records related to the coronavirus relief package, to learn whether administration officials are taking more seriously the influence of lobbyists, banks, or private interests than they are the recommendations of health officials or the safety of the American people.

Here’s what else has been going on this week:

Russian Bounties and Trump’s Politicization of U.S. Intelligence: As outrage mounts over the revelations that Trump, despite White House denials, was in fact briefed last year on Russian bounties paid to the Taliban for the killing of Americans, the White House has indicated that it is not planning an immediate response because the president did not believe the reports.

Questioning intelligence reports — whether they’re about Russian bounties or election interference — has been an ongoing aspect of Trump’s attempts to politicize the intelligence community. So have his politically motivated firings and appointments, notably the early April firing of Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson in retaliation for Atkinson having done his job and transmitted to Congress the famous whistleblower complaint that sparked the impeachment inquiry.

On Thursday, we sued the Office of the Director of National Intelligence for records that could shed light on how ODNI resources may have been commandeered for political purposes. We’re also seeking the communications and calendars of high-ranking officials, including emails concerning Atkinson sent by Ric Grenell, a Trump loyalist with no intelligence experience who had been installed as acting director in February. 

Emails and Resume of Trump’s Pick to Head Government Personnel Office: The president’s authoritarian purges of officials perceived to be disloyal to him aren’t just confined to the intelligence community, of course. The White House’s efforts to rid the administration of such officials went into full gear following Trump’s acquittal of impeachment charges in the Senate. 

This week, Axios reported that Trump plans to place a loyalist at the head of the Office of Personnel Management, which basically functions as the federal workforce’s HR department. The former director of OPM, Dale Cabaniss, had resigned in March after reported poor treatment from John McEntee, the head of the Presidential Personnel Office who has spearheaded Trump’s post-impeachment purge campaign.

Trump’s pick for the new OPM director is John Gibbs, a senior appointee at the Department of Housing and Urban Development and a former conservative commentator who spread conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign chair having partaken in Satanic rituals. American Oversight obtained his resume and a number of his emails, which include frequent contacts with the far-right anti-LGBTQ organization Focus on the Family. His resume highlights his previous writings for the Federalist, including criticism of racial justice movements and promotion of unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud.

You can read more about our investigation into Trump’s post-impeachment purges here.

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Department of State
January 10, 2020

News Roundup: Presidential War Powers and New Impeachment Documents

Centers For Medicare and Medicaid Services, 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 Department of Corrections, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Florida Department of State, Florida Office of the Governor, Hernando County - Florida, Nassau County - Florida, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, Okaloosa County - Florida, Seminole County - Florida
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, 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

Administration for Children and Families, Congress, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Customs and Border Protection, 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, Federal Communications Commission, Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission, Food and Drug Administration, Government Accountability Office, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, 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

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

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

Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control
December 11, 2019

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

Department of State, National Archives and Records Administration
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, Food Safety and Inspection Service, Kentucky Office of the Governor
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, 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, Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, 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

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

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

Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
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, Environmental Protection Agency, Florida Office of the Governor, Office of Information Policy, Office of Legal Counsel, 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

Customs and Border Protection, Department of Defense, Department of Energy, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Department of State
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

Administration for Children and Families, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Customs and Border Protection, Department of Education, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security
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

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

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

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

News Roundup: Trump, Giuliani, and Ukraine

Administration for Children and Families, Agency for International Development, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Customs and Border Protection, 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, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Federal Reserve, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, National Institutes of Health, Starr County - Texas, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Texas Attorney General, Texas Secretary of State, 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
September 6, 2019

News Roundup: Trump’s Enthusiastic Support for New Drug Raises Questions

Council on Environmental Quality, Department of Education, 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, Department of Veterans Affairs, Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Food and Drug Administration, Georgia Department of Driver Services, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Securities and Exchange Commission, Texas Attorney General
August 27, 2019

Investigating HHS Secretary Alex Azar’s Connections to Pharmaceutical Companies

Department of Health and Human Services
August 13, 2019

More Examples of Personal Email Use and Heavy-Handed Outside Influence at the VA

Department of Veterans Affairs
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, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Small Business Administration
June 4, 2019

Documents Reveal Extent of Koch-Funded VA Privatization Group’s Influence

Department of Veterans Affairs
May 30, 2019

Trump Administration Appeals Court Decision Ordering It to Turn Over Communications with Congress About ACA Sabotage

Congress, Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Management and Budget
April 2, 2019

Federal Judge Rejects Administration’s Argument for Withholding Communications with Congress about ACA Sabotage

Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Management and Budget
March 12, 2019

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

Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Department of Energy, Department of State, Department of the Treasury, International Trade Administration, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
March 8, 2019

Watchdogs Sue HHS Following Women’s Health Website Overhaul

Department of Health and Human Services
March 1, 2019

HHS Secretary Azar Calendars Show Multiple Meetings with Conservative Health-Care Groups

Department of Health and Human Services
February 21, 2019

New Lawsuit Seeks HHS Communications with Anti-Abortion Groups

Department of Health and Human Services
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

Customs and Border Protection, Department of Homeland Security, Department of State
March 9, 2018

American Oversight Sues HHS and CMS for Verma Ethics Records

Centers For Medicare and Medicaid Services, Department of Health and Human Services
February 9, 2018

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

Customs and Border Protection, Department of Homeland Security
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

Health Care Lawsuit: Fighting for Transparency

Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Management and Budget
October 17, 2017

5 Questions for Attorney General Sessions

Department of Justice
September 15, 2017

Congress Enters Legal Fight to Block Release of Obamacare Repeal Emails

Congress, Department of Health and Human Services
September 13, 2017

“News to Me!” – Inside the Health Care Emails

Office of Management and Budget
September 7, 2017

Third Set of Health Care Emails Again Shows Trump Administration Effort to Hide Negotiations

Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Management and Budget
September 2, 2017

DOJ Confirms Trump Lied in “Wiretap” Tweets

Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation
August 2, 2017

New Health Care Documents Show Effort to Hide Details of Negotiations

Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Management and Budget
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, Federal Bureau of Investigation
July 20, 2017

American Oversight Sues HHS and OMB For Secret Trump Letter Outlining Plan to Weaken Obamacare

Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Management and Budget, White House
July 13, 2017

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

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

Watchdog Group Files Lawsuit on Trump Border Wall

Customs and Border Protection, Department of Homeland Security, Department of the Interior, Office of Management and Budget
May 24, 2017

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

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

American Oversight Demands Release of Comey-Trump Memos

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

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

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

Statement on the Firing of FBI Director Comey

Federal Bureau of Investigation
May 10, 2017

Ethics Watchdog Calls for IG Investigation of Sessions for Violating Recusal

Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation
May 4, 2017

Watchdog Files Lawsuit, Seeks Injunction for HHS, OMB Health Care Negotiation Record

Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Management and Budget
April 19, 2017

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

Department of Justice, 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 23, 2017

American Oversight Demands Release of Secret Health Care Negotiations

Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Management and Budget
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