Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Trump can keep legal reasons for shrinking monuments secret

The U.S. government does not have to turn over documents to an environmental law firm about the legal arguments for President Donald Trump’s decision to shrink national monuments, a judge ruled. U.S. District Judge David Nye said Monday that the records are protected presidential communications. Boise, Idaho-based firm Advocates for the West had sued for 12 documents withheld from a public records request related to Trump’s decision to reduce two sprawling monuments in Utah. Trump also is considering scaling back other monuments. The group contends that the documents may justify why former presidents made monuments as large as they did and thus undercut Trump’s order in December to shrink Bears Ears and Grand-Staircase Escalante national monuments. Tucci said the group hasn’t decided whether to appeal the decision to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Justice Department spokesman Andy Reuss said Tuesday that the agency had no comment. Tucci said the 12 documents, based on dates, appear to relate to national monuments formed or expanded between 2006 and 2016 and written during previous presidential administrations. Likely 12 national monuments are represented, Tucci said. The withheld documents “contain legal advice to the president and his advisers and should remain protected,” the judge wrote. “While public disclosure is an important and necessary part of any free society, so too is candor and privacy when those at the highest levels of government strive to determine the best course of action.”...MORE

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