For 7+ Months, White House Refused to Follow Law Requiring Release of War Powers Transparency Report, Which Details Executive Branch’s Interpretation of Its Legal Authority to Use Military Force

White House Responds to ‘Writ of Mandamus’ Lawsuit Filed by National Security Experts Benjamin Wittes and Scott R. Anderson, Democracy Forward, and Protect Democracy

Washington, D.C. — On Tuesday, the Trump administration released the unclassified version of its long-overdue War Powers Transparency Report. The report was due on March 1 but the White House failed to meet the deadline as required by law, and it has not explained why. In June, Democracy Forward filed suit on behalf of Protect Democracy and Benjamin Wittes and Scott R. Anderson of Lawfare to compel release of the report.

Read the unclassified report on Lawfare.

 

In response, Democracy Forward, Protect Democracy, Benjamin Wittes, and Scott R. Anderson issued the following statement:

“The overseas deployment of American troops and military force is among the most solemn exercises of Executive authority and deserves to be undertaken with great care and transparency. As such, Congress required the president to inform the American public of the circumstances under which he believes this war-making power can and should be exercised. The Trump administration’s failure to release a war powers report until now betrays a disregard for Congress, the American people, and the rule of law.

“It should not have taken a lawsuit for the Trump administration to publish this report, but we’re pleased our legal action has prompted the president to make this disclosure. We will evaluate the administration’s report to ensure it satisfies the requirements of the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act.”

Background:

Federal law required President Trump to release the annual “War Powers Transparency Report” to Congress and the American people by March 1. The report is meant to provide a critical, up-to-date overview of the president’s interpretation of when, where, how, why, and against whom he believes he is authorized to use military force. Congress mandated release of the report in the 2018 NDAA and strengthened transparency requirements in the 2020 NDAA by setting the annual deadline to submit the report to the relevant congressional committees and release an unclassified version to the American people.

President Trump, however, ignored this year’s deadline. On June 9, Democracy Forward filed suit on behalf of Benjamin Wittes and Scott R. Anderson — two national security law experts and writers-editors of Lawfare — and Protect Democracy seeking to compel President Trump to release the war powers report, as he is statutorily required to do. Learn more about the suit here.

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Democracy Forward is a nonprofit legal organization that scrutinizes Executive Branch activity across policy areas, represents clients in litigation to challenge unlawful actions, and educates the public when the White House or federal agencies break the law.

Protect Democracy formed to prevent American Democracy from declining into a more authoritarian form of government.

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