Lawsuit Takes on|Trump’s Wall of Secrecy

     (CN) — When it comes to government secrecy, Donald Trump may already have a “big, beautiful, powerful wall” protecting his excuses for hiding his tax returns and the FBI’s reaction to two of his most outrageous comments.
     In a possible September surprise, the same investigative journalist who forced the U.S. State Department to disclose 30,000 emails on Hillary Clinton’s private server has barged into a federal court in Washington, D.C. to crack it open.
     Vice News reporter Jason Leopold is one of the most frequent, and successful, users of the Freedom of Information Act.
     On top of exposing the contents of Clinton’s servers, Leopold’s frequent courtroom battles have uncovered the diaries of Guantanamo Bay’s high-value detainee Abu Zubaydah and showed how the CIA molded Hollywood’s telling of the raid on Osama bin Laden in “Zero Dark Thirty,” to name just a few exposés.
     On Monday, Leopold partnered with Ryan Shapiro, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology researcher, to get at the bottom of three of Trump’s most enduring controversies.
     For more than five years, Trump has repeatedly claimed he would release he tax returns, but he has yet to do so. He floated an excuse for that during the Republican presidential debates in February.
     “I want to release my tax return, but I can’t release it while I’m under an audit,” he told the CNN-Telemundo moderators.
     Skeptical, Leopold filed a FOIA request on Aug. 18 demanding that the Internal Revenue Service produce “any and all audits of Donald J. Trump’s individual income tax returns for tax years 2002 forward,” according to his lawsuit.
     That same day, Leopold asked the FBI for records about how the bureau reacted to two of Trump’s remarks that shocked the nation.
     Trump played with fire in August with remarks interpreted by some as incitement to assassinate his opponent.
     “If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks,” Trump told his supporters at an Aug. 8 rally, referring to Clinton’s possible Supreme Court nominations. “Although the Second Amendment people — maybe there is, I don’t know.”
     Weeks earlier, Trump asked Russian intelligence services to dig up dirt on Clinton.
     “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Trump said, predicting that the Kremlin’s efforts would “probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”
     Leopold says that he demanded the FBI disclose “any and all records, including investigative records,” about both of those remarks, but the bureau did not even acknowledge receiving them.
     In a six-page lawsuit filed Monday he asks a federal judge to order their release.
     Leopold and Shapiro are represented by attorney Jeffrey Light.
     The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to email requests for comment. The Department of Justice declined to comment.

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