Instead of issuing subpoenas like he was supposed to, Mueller went to the General Services Administration and demanded they hand over transition documents to the special counsel’s office.
The GSA gave “tens of thousands of emails” to the probe without “any notice” to the members of the transition team.
The attorneys for the transition team just learned of this on the 12th of Dec.
“We understand that the special counsel’s office has subsequently made extensive use of the materials it obtained from the GSA, including materials that are susceptible to privilege claims,” Langhofer writes.
The transition attorney said the special counsel’s office also received laptops, cell phones and at least one iPad from the GSA.
Why it matters: The transition emails are said to include sensitive exchanges on matters that include potential appointments, gossip about the views of particular senators involved in the confirmation process, speculation about vulnerabilities of Trump nominees, strategizing about press statements, and policy planning on everything from war to taxes.
“Mueller is using the emails to confirm things, and get new leads,” a transition source told me.
How it happened: The sources say Mueller obtained the emails from the General Services Administration, the government agency that hosted the transition email system, which had addresses ending in “ptt.gov,” for Presidential Transition Team.
Some discussion here about FOIA and transition documents. So it seems that a government agency would not have the authority to make a decision about turning these documents over to Mueller.
Nonagency Status of Transition Teams
First and foremost, it seems quite clear that transition teams are not federal agencies subject to the FOIA. The Act applies only to “agencies” of “the executive branch of the Government,” including the independent regulatory agencies. 5 U.S.C. § 552(f). To be sure, the expenses of a transition team are federally funded. See 3 U.S.C. § 102 note,amended by Presidential Transitions Effectiveness Act, Pub. L. No. 100-398, § 6, 102 Stat. 985 (1988) (providing authorization and appropriation of up to $3.5 million for transition team expenses). However, it is executive branch control, not mere funding, that determines whether an entity is an “agency” for purposes of the FOIA. See Forsham v. Harris, 445 U.S. 169, 182 (1980) (autonomy of grantee of federal funds precludes “agency” status under FOIA).
Related Posts:We truly are under attack. We need user support now more than ever! For as little as $10, you can support the IWB directly – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. 1,073 views