The American Center for Law and Justice, a conservative-leaning law group, is suing the Justice Department after the agency allegedly ignored its Freedom of Information Act request for more information about Attorney General Loretta Lynch's private June meeting with former President Bill Clinton just days before it was announced that Hillary Clinton would face no charges for her email practices at the State Department.
"We’re forcing their hand," the ACLJ's chief counsel Jay Sekulow wrote in a blog post annoucing the legal action. "We’re taking the Obama Administration to federal court. Again. We’re filing a lawsuit against the Department of Justice, to ensure true justice."
Sekulow initially called on Lynch to resign, but when that didn't happen, he filed a FOIA request "demanding answers on how such a careless and perhaps intentionally underhanded meeting was allowed to happen," a reference to the clandestine meeting Bill Clinton had with Lynch on the tarmac of an Arizona airport.
But the ACLJ lawyer said the FBI and the Justice Department ignored his request:
The FBI acknowledged our FOIA requests, and even granted our request for expedited processing by determining that we had shown our requests concerned “[a] matter of widespread and exceptional media interest in which there exist possible questions about the government’s integrity which affect public confidence.” The Justice Department remained silent.
We told the Court: “The Defendant [DOJ] has wholly failed to respond to Plaintiff’s FOIA request.” In fact, the Obama Administration’s failure to respond violated the statute in two ways. So we brought two Counts.
The two violations, according to the ACLJ, are in reference to 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(6)(A), which requires the defendant to "determine whether to comply to Plaintiff’s request within twenty (20) days," and 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(6)(E)(ii), which states that the defendant must make "a determination of whether to provide expedited processing."
"The bottom line of our lawsuit is this: the ‘Defendant is unlawfully withholding records requested by Plaintiff pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 552," Sekulow wrote. "The Justice Department’s answer to our suit will be due in about 30 days."
"General Lynch has disqualified herself from this critical investigation," he added. "She has no business having any involvement in an FBI investigation of this magnitude. We will do, and are doing, everything we can to hold her accountable."
This lawsuit follows the FBI's announcement last week that it is reviewing its previous investigation into Hillary Clinton in light of the discovery of new documents that were unearthed during the bureau's investigation into disgraced former Rep. Anthony Weiner's sexting scandal. Weiner is the estranged husband of longtime Clinton aide Huma Abedin.
Lynch's Justice Department reportedly did not approve of FBI Director James Comey's decision to publicize the fact that his agency was reopening its probe of Hillary Clinton's email practices.