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American Oversight Sues Trump Administration For Transparency In Clemency

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The nonprofit watchdog group American Oversight has sued President Donald Trump, Jared Kushner, and the Executive Office of the President under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) to allow public inspection of the records of the president’s reported clemency task force.

The Washington Post reported in February that Trump had organized a task force, led by Kushner, to advise him on potential pardon recipients and changes to the clemency process.

The group has reportedly been meeting since 2019, and is composed of a number of non-governmental members, including former acting attorney general Matthew G. Whitaker, Democratic commentator Van Jones, the Heritage Foundation’s Paul Larkin, and Brett Tolman, a former U.S. attorney in Utah. Under FACA, whenever the president or agency officials establish or utilize an advisory committee that includes members who are not part of the federal government, certain transparency requirements apply.

On February 20, American Oversight sent a formal letter to Kushner asking to inspect “all records prepared by or made available to task force members” as part of the advisory committee’s meetings. The watchdog group also explained that the clemency task force should not conduct any further business without complying with FACA’s transparency requirements. Copies of the letter were sent to the White House Counsel’s Office and the General Services Administration.

Three weeks later, neither Kushner nor anyone associated with the clemency task force has responded to American Oversight. The lawsuit seeks to compel the advisory committee to comply with the transparency provisions within FACA that grant the public the right to oversee federal advisory committees.

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