Judicial Watch Sues For Transparency In Trump Travel Records

Air Force One
I hear their service is better than United!

Judicial Watch announced today that it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for Secret Service travel-expense records related to expenses incurred protecting President Trump and his family while they traveled between June and October 2017 (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security (No. 1:18-cv-00161)).

Judicial Watch filed suit after the Secret Service, a component of the Department of Homeland Security, failed to respond to nine separate FOIA requests for records regarding:

  • President Trump’s trip to his Bedminster, NJ, golf club from June 9-11;
  • President Trump’s trip to Bedminster from June 23-25;
  • President Trump and Melania Trump’s trip to Bedminster from June 30-July 3
  • President Trump’s trip to Bedminster from July 14-16;
  • President Trump and Melania Trump’s various trips for a vacation to Bedminster and New York from August 4-21;
  • President Trump’s trip to Phoenix for a campaign rally on August 22;
  • President Trump’s trip to Missouri to appear at a rallyas a kickoff for tax reform at the Loren Cook Company on August 30;
  • President Trump’s trip to Huntsville, AL, on September 22to campaign for Sen. Luther Strange. He then spent the weekend at Bedminster, returning to the White House on September 24; and
  • President Trump’s trip to Bedminster from September 29 to October 1

The Secret Service records document costs for meals, hotels, air/rail, car rentals and other incidentals incurred by the Service while providing protection of the president and his family when they are on personal or political travel.

On January 19, Judicial Watch released travel records from the U.S. Department of the Air Force in response to a FOIA request for President Donald Trump and his family.  The total costs for President Trump’s travels recorded in this document production amounted to $3,199,188.30.  Added to the previously released costs, the known political and leisure travel costs for President Trump and his family now amount to $13,533,937.28.

“The Secret Service secrecy on presidential travel (for both President Obama and President Trump) is inexcusable,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “It is ridiculous that we have to continue filing federal lawsuits to prod the Secret Service to produce simple expense information about the costs of presidential travel.”

This is not the first time Judicial Watch has been forced to file suit against the Department of Homeland Security for failing to respond to FOIA requests for presidential travel-expense records. While monitoring travel for President Obama and his family, Judicial Watch has encountered continuous resistance to FOIA requests. Between July 21, 2014 and November 10, 2015, the Secret Service failed to respond to 19 separate FOIA requests seeking records of security-related expenses for travel by Barack Obama and other VIPs.

On November 10, 2015, Judicial Watch filed a FOIA lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia asking the court to enjoin the Secret Service from continuing to withhold responsive documents from Judicial Watch (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security (No. 1:15-cv-01983)).  Judicial Watch filed a related lawsuit on May 6, 2016 (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security (No. 1:16-cv-0863)) after the Secret Service failed to respond to five (5) additional travel-related FOIA requests.  Judicial Watch appealed the District Court’s dismissal of its claim that the agency has a policy and practice of violating FOIA’s procedural requirements in connection with processing of Judicial Watch’s FOIA requests.  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit heard argument on Judicial Watch’s policy and practices claim on September 15, 2017.

To date, Judicial Watch has uncovered total travel expenses of the Obamas amounting to $114,691,322.17.