GOP presidential Vivek Ramaswamy announced a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request against the Department of Justice and Attorney General Merrick Garland in a bid to obtain communications connected to former President Donald Trump’s indictment.
The FOIA demand comes ahead of Trump’s expected arraignment at a Miami courthouse on a range of charges connected to his alleged mishandling of classified documents, according to an indictment that was unsealed last week. Trump is expected to plead not guilty.
In a Twitter post that included his request, Ramaswamy is asking for any records held by the DOJ in connection to Trump’s indictment. He specifically named Garland and special prosecutor Jack Smith, who brought the charges against Trump,
“My campaign just filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) demand to uncover exactly what the White House communicated to Merrick Garland [and] Jack Smith about the unprecedented indictment of a former U.S. President & [Joe] Biden’s disfavored opponent in this election,” he wrote. “Every American deserves to know. I will host a press conference in Miami tomorrow at 10:30am ET to discuss this & another announcement.”
The businessman-turned-2024 candidate added that “if the captured media fails to do its job, real leaders in this country need to step up and do it instead, adding: “I’m running to win this election & it’d be easier for me if Trump were eliminated from running, but that is not the right answer for our nation. America First Always.”
The request seeks to obtain access to “any records” belonging to the DOJ, including electronic communications between the DOJ and non-government third-parties. Under a federal statute, federal agencies are mandated to respond to a FOIA request within 20 business days.
Ramaswamy, who is trailing far behind Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, also announced that if he is elected, he will pardon Trump if he’s convicted.
“Reading that indictment and looking at the selective omissions of both fact and law, I’m even more convinced that a pardon is the right answer here,” he said during a recent CNN interview, calling Trump’s indictment “deeply politicized.”
Trump faces 37 counts related to the mishandling of classified documents, including 31 counts under an Espionage Act statute pertaining to the willful retention of national defense information. The charges also include counts of obstructing justice and making false statements, among other crimes.
According to the court papers, Trump is accused of keeping documents related to “nuclear weaponry in the United States” and the “nuclear capabilities of a foreign country,” along with documents from White House intelligence briefings, including some that detail the military capabilities of the U.S. and other countries.
Prosecutors allege Trump showed off the documents to people who did not have security clearances to review them and later tried to conceal documents from his own lawyers as they sought to comply with federal demands to find and return documents. Trump could face 20 years in prison, if convicted.
It came after a Trump representative told the National Archives in December 2021 that presidential records had been found at Mar-a-Lago. In January 2022, the National Archives retrieved 15 boxes of documents from Trump’s Florida home, later telling Justice Department officials that they contained “a lot” of classified material.
Neither the indictment itself nor a conviction would prevent Trump from running for or winning the presidency in 2024, legal experts have said. The U.S. Constitution has three requirements for a presidential candidate: they have to be at least 35 or older, have to be born in the United States, and needed to have lived in the U.S. for at least 14 years.
Trump is the first president to face federal charges. Earlier this year, in a separate case in Manhattan, he became the first current or former commander-in-chief to be arrested on charges that he allegedly falsified business records in connection to payments that were made during the 2016 election. In a court appearance, he pleaded not guilty.
In social media posts and in a campaign stop over the weekend, Trump railed against the charges and said the DOJ is engaging in election interference to aid President Biden’s reelection chances. The former president also suggested there are two standards of justice in the United States, saying that top-level Democrats committed crimes but were never charged.
“Will Deranged Jack Smith be looking at the thousands of pages of documents that Biden had in Chinatown then, when caught, quickly sent up to Boston?” Trump wrote on Tuesday. “What about the 1,850 Boxes that Biden is fighting to keep secret. How about Hillary’s 33,000 emails that she deleted and acid washed? Will he be looking at the $5,000,000 bribe that was paid to Biden but that the Justice Department is trying to hide? Much more coming on that! We are living in a Third World Country. No Borders, Rigged Elections!”
The Epoch Times has approached the DOJ for comment.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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