Judicial Watch: Federal Court Hearing Monday, May 1, into Use by Jeh Johnson, Other DHS Officials, of Private, Unsecure Emails for Official Business
(Washington, DC) — Judicial Watch today announced a court hearing will be held on Monday, May 1, 2017, regarding Judicial Watch’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit seeking emails “relating to official United States Government business sent to or from” former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and three other top Homeland Security officials who used “non-‘.gov’” email addresses (Judicial Watch, Inc., v. United States Department of Homeland Security (No. l:l6-cv-00967)).
The hearing will focus on whether the Department of Homeland Security violated FOIA by not producing any records responsive to Judicial Watch’s original December 29, 2015, request from the agency officials’ non-government email accounts. The agency claims the emails are essentially inaccessible and it is too troublesome to recover them.
The court hearing is scheduled for:
Date: Monday, May 1, 2017
Time: 2 p.m. ET
Location: Courtroom 21
U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
333 Constitution Ave NW
Washington, DC 20001
Judicial Watch previously obtained and made public 215 pages of documents containing official emails sent through the private, unsecure email accounts of Johnson, former Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, former Chief of Staff Christian Marrone, and former General Counsel Steven Bunnell. The documents include emails discussing high-level meetings Johnson was to have with the Kuwaiti ambassador and Saudi Arabian Interior Ministry officials, as well as a West African $4.5 million online consumer fraud scam using Johnson’s name.
Prior to the Obama administration’s leaving office, Judge Moss ordered the Department of Homeland Security to preserve email records sought by Judicial Watch “to minimize the risk of an inadvertent loss of potentially responsive emails.” In petitioning the court for the preservation order, Judicial Watch argued:
A court order requiring preservation of these emails is particularly necessary now as DHS has suggested that these officials may have been acting without authorization by sending emails from these accounts … As such, there is no assurance that these officials will abide by a “request” by the agency to preserve these emails, particularly after their employment ends.…
Judicial Watch previously uncovered documents revealing that Secretary Jeh Johnson and 28 other agency officials used government computers to access personal web-based email accounts despite an agency-wide ban due to heightened security concerns. The documents also reveal that Homeland Security officials misled Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) when Perry specifically asked whether personal accounts were being used for official government business.