A watchdog organization is weighing its legal options after being denied access to material regarding "unmasking" by Barack Obama's national security advisor, Susan Rice.
Judicial Watch announced on Monday that the National Security Council (NSC) has denied its Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for documents related to Rice's unmasking of members of the Trump presidential campaign or transition team. Those documents have been removed to the Obama Presidential Library, where – in accordance with the Presidential Records Act – they will remain closed to the public for five years.
Chris Farrell, director of research and investigation at Judicial Watch, says there's going to be further litigation.
"One would hope that there's going to be a criminal inquiry by the Justice Department for the national security crime aspect of this – and that would penetrate the Presidential Records Act and allow them to recover the records," he states.
"But frankly we've got an argument as well," he continues, "and we're going to find out what the dates were when they decided to move which records when."
Judicial Watch contends that prosecutors, Congress, and the public will want to know when the NSC shipped off those records to what it describes as "the memory hole of the Obama Presidential Library."
"Because it looks like," says Farrell, "[that] they're trying to use the Presidential Records Act in a way that really denies accountability and is really part of a cover-up for abusing the signals intelligence capabilities of the government for domestic political purposes."
The NSA also informed Judicial Watch that it would not turn over communications with any Intelligence Community member or agency concerning the alleged Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election; the hacking of DNC computers; or the suspected communications between Russia and Trump campaign/transition officials.
Farrell hopes that the special counsel and Congress will also consider their options to obtain those records.
Judicial Watch points out it has filed six FOIA lawsuits related to the surveillance, unmasking, and illegal leaking targeting Trump and his associates.