Suit Follows Congressional Investigation Into Administration’s Efforts to Bypass Congress in Pursuit of Deal to Transfer Nuclear Technology to Saudi Arabia
Demand Comes on the Heels of Kushner’s Face-to-Face Meeting With Bin Salman
Kushner-Connected Company Could Reap Windfall from Potential Deal
WASHINGTON, D.C.— Today, Democracy Forward sued the Trump administration to force the release of records that would shed light on the Department of Energy’s attempts to bypass Congress and transfer nuclear technology to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. A successful deal would benefit a company that provided a substantial financial windfall to the Kushner Companies last year. Negotiations surrounding a potential transfer of technology, as described in a House Oversight and Reform Committee interim staff report, have been ongoing, despite disapproval from staffers and ethics advisors at the National Security Council.
Democracy Forward requested records from the Department of Energy in May of 2018 under the Freedom of Information Act. The request sought:
Records concerning Secretary Perry’s multiple overseas meetings with Saudi nuclear officials
Any and all records relating to nuclear cooperation agreements between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia
Communications between DOE officials and key energy companies, including Westinghouse Electric—a subsidiary of Brookfield Asset Management, which paid $1.3 billion for a lease that bailed out a troubled Kushner Companies investment property at 666 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.
“The Trump administration is hiding details about a controversial nuclear deal from the public, even as the Kushner Companies’ financial backers stand to benefit,” said Democracy Forward Senior Counsel Travis Annatoyn. “This is exactly why we have laws compelling public disclosure, and the Trump administration must comply with those laws.”
The suit occurs in the midst of numerous interactions between the Trump administration and Saudi government. This week, Jared Kushner met with Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman in Riyadh and earlier this month, President Trump held a White House meeting with nuclear developers to discuss international expansion into the Middle East region, including Saudi Arabia. In March 2018, Energy Secretary Rick Perry discussed the potential energy exchange with Saudi officials in London, and in December 2018 went to Saudi Arabia where he and the Saudi Minister of Energy continued to discuss a potential agreement to allow the transfer of nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia.
The House Oversight and Reform Committee is seeking additional information to help determine whether the actions being pursued are “in the national security interest of the United States or, rather, serve those who stand to gain financially as a result of this potential change in U.S. foreign policy.”
The suit was filed today in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.
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.