Resource: FOIA Responses from OMB and OLC about Immigration Executive Order

By: Protect Democracy Project

January 31, 2018

On February 15, 2017, Protect Democracy sent FOIA requests to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) at the Department of Justice (OLC) to learn whether this Administration sought any legal or other agency review of its Executive Order, Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States, EO 13769. Protect Democracy had to go to court to force a response, and the government is in the process of sending its responsive records. See The Protect Democracy Project v. Office of Mgmt. and Budget, U.S. Dep’t of Justice, 1:17-cv-814/815-TJK (D.D.C. May 5, 2017). OMB found only one record showing review of the executive order, and OLC did only an abbreviated “form and legality review.”

So far, the records show OLC’s very limited work, even under the “form and legality” review, such as saying: “We are of course are in a crunch time and we don’t know what sort of leeway we have to be making changes.” See p. 61 of 95, January 31, 2018 production. Since OLC received it late on a Sunday night on Jan. 22., OLC had at least 5 executive orders to review, among its other work, and its internal emails show a rushed and changing workstream: “POTUS docs for Friday – ANOTHER CHANGE IN PLANS.” See p. 34 of 95, January 31, 2018 production. It’s not clear that others at DOJ were included, as OLC emailed: “I am thinking that I should alert Policy that we are redlining the immigration EOs. Does that make sense, or should I just ask them the status on their side?” See p. 13 of 53, January 2, 2018 production.