Judicial Watch: Federal Court Hearing Scheduled in Lawsuit Seeking Details of Meeting Between DOJ Lawyers and AP Reporters Regarding Trump Associate Paul Manafort
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch today announced that a court hearing will be held before U.S. District Court Carl J. Nichols on Thursday, March 9, 2023, in the Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Justice for records of a meeting set up by then-Chief of the Justice Department’s Criminal Fraud Section Andrew Weissmann between the DOJ, FBI and reporters from The Associated Press (AP), in which Weissmann allegedly provided guidance to reporters investigating Paul Manafort, and which may have led to the raid of Manafort’s storage locker (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:19-cv-00879)).
The hearing will be held:
Date: Thursday, March 9, 2023
Time: 1 pm ET
Location: E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Courthouse
333 Constitution Avenue, NWWashington, DC 20001
Judicial Watch has explained to the court that the search for attorney Shreve Ariail’s records remains at issue. At the time Ariail was assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York. He subsequently became deputy general counsel for litigation and investigations at the CIA, and is now in private practice. Ariail was among the three U.S. attorneys who attended and emailed about the meeting with at least one AP reporter and Andrew Weissmann. (Weissmann was hired to work on Robert Mueller’s special counsel operation against President Trump. Weissman then reportedly spearheaded the subsequent investigation and prosecution of Manafort.) The DOJ refused to search Ariail’s records until it was ordered to do so by the court in March 2022. During this process, new information has come to light that casts doubt on the DOJ’s obligation to retain Ariail’s records during Judicial Watch’s pending lawsuit.
Judicial Watch contends that the DOJ’s response about its retention of Ariail’s records raises critical questions about potential deletion of records that require the court’s immediate attention.
In October 2019, Judicial Watch made public two productions of documents from the FBI – 28 pages and 38 pages – about an April 11, 2017, “off-the-record” meeting set up by then-Chief of the Justice Department’s Criminal Fraud Section Andrew Weissmann, between the DOJ, the FBI and The Associated Press in which AP reporters reportedly provided information on Manafort, including the numeric code to Manafort’s storage locker.