The State Department of President Joe Biden is being sued because it wants to keep documents pertaining to the office of climate envoy John Kerry secret until after the next presidential election.
The government watchdog group Protect the Public’s Trust filed the lawsuit against the State Department on Wednesday after being informed that the State Department could not fulfill its Freedom of Information Act request until Nov. 18, 2024, which would be after the next presidential election, Fox News reported.
“The Biden administration promised to be the most transparent ever,” PPT director Michael Chamberlain said. “But when the State Department is asked for records about John Kerry’s office – whose work touches on energy prices, international relations, many of the issues the American public cares about right now – they refuse to commit to anything until after the next presidential election.”
“It doesn’t take a huge cynic to believe politics may be a factor,” he said.
According to the suit exclusively obtained by Fox News Digital, PPT initially filed the FOIA request with the State Department on Oct. 20, 2021, for meeting requests, external and internal communications, and legal counsel communications from Special Envoy for Climate Change (SECC) senior advisor Jesse Young.
The request also asks for Young’s “official calendar, schedule, travel logs and itineraries, government purchase card transactions, and government cell phone log.”
Young was previously an adviser to Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and was on the State Department team that engaged in negotiations for the 2015 Paris climate accord.
In their press release, PPT highlighted a portion of their lawsuit that included a quote from a memo by Attorney General Merrick Garland on the importance of government transparency.
“As the Garland Memo makes clear, ‘Timely disclosure of records is also essential to the core purpose of FOIA.’…An agency purporting to give itself more than three years to complete a FOIA request is anything but timely,” the lawsuit said.
“Particularly where, as here, the Department’s proposed completion date conveniently allows it to hide information about high level political appointees working on one of the administration’s highest priorities until just after the next presidential election,” it said. “This can hardly be said to promote ‘transparency’ or ‘accountability.’”
A spokesperson to the State Department said to Fox News’ request for comment that, “As a general matter, we do not comment on ongoing litigation.”
It comes during a tough week for the Biden administration who was blocked by a federal court from imposing limitations of arrests, detentions, and removals by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Southern District of Ohio Judge Michael Newman made the decision on Tuesday in a case that was brought by Republican attorneys general of Arizona, Montana, and Ohio.
He issued a preliminary injunction stopping the president from imposing the new guidelines on punishments for illegal immigration, The Washington Examiner reported.
“The States sue because they believe DHS skirted Congress’s immigration enforcement mandates when it issued a policy that prioritizes certain high-risk noncitizens for apprehension and removal,” the judge said. “DHS contends that seemingly mandatory statutes must be read flexibly to permit efficient law enforcement.”
“At bottom, that is what this dispute is about: can the Executive displace clear congressional command in the name of resource allocation and enforcement goals? Here, the answer is no,” he said.
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen, and Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost sued the Biden administration in November 2021 over the policy revision, which they said “dramatically ties the hands of immigration officers, halting nearly all deportations.”
That month, the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees ICE, issued a permanent guidance to limit whom ICE could arrest and thus remove from the country. The guidance established that ICE officers had to obtain permission to arrest illegal immigrants who had not been convicted of an aggravated felony, were not affiliated with a gang or terrorist network, or had illegally entered the U.S. before November 2020.
Knudsen celebrated the victory in a message to The Washington Examiner.
“This is a great victory for the rule of law, border security, and public safety across the country. President Biden’s open border policies make it easier for the Mexican cartels to smuggle drugs into our country, which is part of the reason we’re seeing such an increase in violent crime,” he said. “I hope the Biden administration will follow the court order and start following the law when it comes to deportations, particularly for those illegal aliens who have prior criminal convictions.”