Access to Information in the Trump Administration

We’ve started compiling resources on access to information issues in the Trump era, from our own site and around the web. We’ll keep updating as we go, so please let us know if there’s anything that we’ve missed.

Open Government
Preserving Records
Freedom Of Information Act
National Security/Law Enforcement Secrecy

Open Government

Collection & dissemination of government data – From the Executive Orders on immigration to surveys on public health, new threats to the reliability, accessibility, and accuracy of government data continue to emerge.
OTG and more than 50 organizations call on ICE to comply with FOIA, release data on immigration enforcement cooperation [OTG, April 24, 2017]
Op-Ed: Trump’s Abuse of Government Data [New Yorker, April 3, 2017]
OTG, coalition express concern over data provisions in immigration Orders [OTG, March 21, 2017]
Trump’s quiet war on data begins [Engadget, March 20, 2017]
Trump Administration Removes LGBTQ Questions From Elderly Survey [NBC, March 20, 2017]

Mike Pence says he advocates for a free press. Here’s his shaky history with transparency. [Washington Post, March 8, 2017]

White House Visitor Logs:
Mar-a-Lago can’t release visitor logs — because it doesn’t keep them [Politico, March 28, 2017]
Senators push Trump to release White House, Mar-a-Lago visitor logs [Reuters, March 6, 2017]

Democrats press Ryan on nondisclosure rules [Politico, February 2, 2017]

Preserving Records

Information removed from government websites – Since the Trump Administration took office, reports of information going missing from government websites have caused confusion and worry. Groups of volunteers have joined efforts to harvest, preserve, and provide access to at-risk government data:
Feds fight suit over web takedown of animal abuse data [Politico, April 25, 2017]
Reports of Information Removed from Government Websites [OTG, up-to-date as of April 3]
Op-Ed: I am an Arctic researcher. Donald Trump is deleting my citations [The Guardian, March 28, 2017]
OMB responds to coalition letter on stripping online government data [OTG, March 8, 2017]
Activists Rush to Save Government Science Data — If They Can Find It [New York Times, March 6, 2017]
Tracking U.S. government data removed from the Internet during the Trump administration [Sunlight Foundation, February 2017]

Presidential Records Act/Federal Records Act, use of private and encrypted messaging accounts – Reports have emerged that White House staff and federal agency employees are using encrypted messaging applications.
National Archives to White House: Save all Trump tweets [AP, April 4, 2017]
Senators Urge White House to Comply with Presidential Records Act [OTG, March 13, 2017]
Exclusive: Trump aides’ bid to plug leaks creates unease among some civil servants [Reuters, March 3, 2017]
Trump inspires encryption boom in leaky D.C. [Politico, February 27, 2017]
Encryption Apps Help White House Staffers Leak—and Maybe Break the Law [Wired, February 15, 2017]

OTG: The White House must not purge President Trump’s conversations with foreign officials [OTG, May 16, 2017]

White House staff told to preserve Russia-related materials [AP, March 2, 2017]

Freedom of Information Act

OTG calls on IG to ensure preservation and access to records on Comey firing [OTG, May 15, 2017]

Trump Could Tear Down Obama’s FOIA Secrecy. Here’s Why He Probably Won’t. [Daily Caller, March 24, 2017]

ICE Refuses to Release More Comprehensive Detainer Data [TRAC, March 20, 2017]

OTG, openness groups, urge FOIA Ombudsman to revise strict confidentiality requirements [OTG, February 24, 2017]

National Security/Law Enforcement Secrecy

Senate misses opportunity to demand greater transparency from Justice Department nominee on “secret law” [OTG, May 11, 2017]

The Torture Report can be made public despite Supreme Court decision that would keep it under wraps [OTG, April 26, 2017]

Protect Americans by reforming detention practices, not hiding them [OTG, April 3, 2017]

Op-Ed: Congress’s vote to eviscerate Internet privacy could give the FBI massive power [Washington Post, March 30, 2017]

House Committee holds oversight hearing on FBI’s use of facial recognition technology [OTG, March 22, 2017]

State Secrets Privilege Invoked to Block Testimony in C.I.A. Torture Case [New York Times, March 8, 2017]

Trump Wants NSA Program Reauthorized But Won’t Tell Congress How Many Americans It Spies On [The Intercept, March 4, 2017]

Palantir Provides the Engine for Donald Trump’s Deportation Machine [The Intercept, March 2, 2017]

Trump Justice Department delivers CIA ‘Torture Report’ to federal court [Miami Herald, February 10, 2017]


Agency gag orders – Several reports emerged in late January of alleged gag orders sent to federal agencies banning employees from communicating with the public or with other public officials. The directives raised concerns that whistleblower protections were being violated, particularly when public officials were told not to communicate with Congress:
Updated: Openness groups, members of Congress speak out against government gag orders [OTG, February 2, 2017]
Government Gag Orders Put Public at Risk [Project On Government Oversight, January 26, 2017]
Federal Workers Told To Halt External Communication In First Week Under Trump [Huffington Post, January 25, 2017]

Transparency Advocates: Federal Whistleblowers Have a Vital Role in Trump Era [Government Executive, March 17, 2017]