Demand Sent As State Withholds Documents Regarding Reports Tillerson Called President A “Moron,” Concerned President Lacks Knowledge Of Nuclear Weapons

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, following growing speculation that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is being forced out of the Trump Administration by White House officials, Democracy Forward submitted a demand letter to the State Department, calling for the release of documents regarding Secretary Tillerson’s reported concern that President Donald Trump is unfit to serve as Commander-in-Chief.

The demand follows earlier reports that Secretary Tillerson and senior military officials were alarmed by the President’s lack of knowledge and appreciation of foreign policy issues. In light of such reports, Democracy Forward filed a FOIA request on October 4, 2017 seeking records regarding these concerns, and attempts by the White House to orchestrate Secretary Tillerson’s public response to manage the fallout. The State Department has failed to produce documents, in violation of its legal obligations.

“The President’s highest obligation under the Constitution is to defend and protect the American people,” said Democracy Forward Executive Director Anne Harkavy. “If Secretary Tillerson has concerns about whether President Trump is fit to carry out that obligation, it is imperative that the American people know.”

The demand letter comes as speculation of Secretary Tillerson’s ouster mounts, in part, due to the Secretary’s reported statements and escalating policy disagreements with the President.

The FOIA request submitted to the Department sought:

  • Communications between State Department officials regarding the development of the statement issued by Secretary Tillerson on Oct. 4;
  • Communications by or on behalf of State Department and White House personnel related to coordination of the October 4 press conference;
  • Records related to correspondence regarding the article published by NBC News on Oct. 4 allegeding that State Secretary Tillerson called the President a “moron”, including with reporters; and
  • Any non classified records related to Secretary Tillerson’s participation in a July 20 meeting with Pentagon, White House and other Cabinet officials, relevant to the later reschedule press conference.

Read the full FOIA here.

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.

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