Watchdog group sues DOJ for records to determine if Erik Prince probe was 'influenced' by 'officials seeking to accommodate' Trump

Watchdog group sues DOJ for records to determine if Erik Prince probe was 'influenced' by 'officials seeking to accommodate' Trump
United States Federal Government / Wikimedia Commons

President Donald Trump giving remarks in the White House Rose Garden on May 30, 2020

A government watchdog organization on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Justice alleging that the federal executive department violated the government's public records law and failed to disclose non-exempt documents.

According to Law & Crime, the documents focused on a probe into whether or not former President Donald Trump and his longtime ally Erik Prince provided false statements during the Russian investigation.

In the lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) alleges that "the government had failed to follow the law by not providing responses to its requests for public information concerning the Prince probe and whether it may have been affected by the Blackwater founder's close ties to the Trump administration."

CREW's request within the lawsuit stems from Prince's statement during a House Intelligence Committee hearing that was held back in 2017. At the time, Prince recounted the discussions he had with a Russian banker during their meeting in the Seychelles Islands. Prince was accused of falsifying details about the nature of the meetings which he reportedly described as "chance encounters." according to the publication.

Prince also "allegedly lied by claiming he was not acting as a Trump representative when, in fact, he was being briefed and debriefed before and after the meetings by Trump's camp."

Initially, the case against Prince did not come together. So, in 2020, CREW filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The watchdog group sought "information regarding whether any DOJ investigation related to Mr. Prince had been influenced by political considerations or by DOJ officials seeking to accommodate President Trump."

In the lawsuit filed on Tuesday, CREW noted that it was pushing back against the "failure of DOJ to respond to a request for documents related to DOJ investigations into Erik Prince and whether those investigations were influenced by political considerations or by DOJ officials seeking to accommodate then-President Trump."

CREW also asked for a federal judge to order the DOJ to expedite the processing and production of proper documentation and award the watchdog group with associated legal fees relative to their efforts to build their case.

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