Gaining in the latest polls, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy’s presidential campaign unveiled a new tactic — suing the Department of Justice over former President Donald Trump’s prosecution.
Phillip Gordon and Stephen Roberts, lawyers for Vivek 2024, filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia last week, claiming DOJ and FBI officials are ignoring their Freedom of Information Act requests for documents connecting Trump’s Jan. 6 prosecution to President Joe Biden’s reelection plans.
The lawsuit was first reported by Court Watch.
Ramaswamy, 38, is a first-time candidate who transformed himself into an anti-woke crusader and Trump apologist. That message has moved him into third place in the ReallClearPolitics polling average.
During a July speech at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics, Ramaswamy laid out his plan to completely eliminate the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in part as a response to what he sees as the agency’s politically motivated targeting of Trump. He has also pledged that, if elected, he will pardon the former president, and he has challenged the rest of the GOP field to make the same commitment.
“Each of our paths to electoral success would be easier if President Trump were eliminated from competition, but that is the wrong result for our country. The fact that we are running against Trump gives us credibility to denounce this politicized prosecution,” Ramaswamy wrote to the other candidates in June.
Trump is facing more than 90 criminal charges in four cases filed this year, but Ramaswamy’s campaign focuses on the Jan. 6 indictments. On Aug. 1, Special Prosecutor Jack Smith unveiled four indictments about Trump’s alleged attempt to overturn the 2020 election. Those charges are conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of an attempt to obstruct an official proceeding and conspiracy against rights.
The day after the indictments were made public, Ramaswamy’s campaign filed a FOIA request with the DOJ seeking documents that could link the prosecution to Biden’s own political campaign. Ramaswamy’s campaign asked for things like memos, transcripts of conversations, or any other plans in which the DOJ or any other federal agency employee discuss how the prosecutions will impact Biden’s chances and the chances of Democrats in general as well as any communications with outside political organizations.
Ramaswamy’s FOIA covers January 2021 to August 1, 2023. While there is no direct evidence the documents Ramaswamy’s team is seeking actually exist, it’s based on the presumption that Trump’s prosecution is being directed — or at least being done to benefit — Biden and the White House.
“We’re skating on thin ice, and we cannot set a precedent where the party in power uses police force to indict its political opponents. It is wrong, the weaponization of justice in this country,” Ramaswamy said during last month’s presidential debate.
The lawsuit claims the DOJ, FBI, and the Office of Inspector General (OIG) are breaking the law because they have not provided the documents within the statutory timeframe.
Earlier this month, the DOJ told Ramaswamy’s camp that due to the “unusual circumstances” surrounding the request, it would take longer than the statutory limits to search for the records and respond to the request. According to the lawsuit, that was the last Ramaswamy heard from the DOJ.
The OIG response letter from Aug. 17 promised to respond “as quickly as possible,” but that must be on government time. According to the lawsuit, OIG has gone silent about the request since.
Only the FBI has given Ramaswamy a definitive answer. It said, “No.”
“On August 17, 2023, FBI sent a letter to the Campaign indicating that the portion of the Campaign’s FOIA Request that had been forwarded to the FBI was being closed for being ‘overly broad’ and ‘not provid[ing] enough detail to enable FBI personnel to locate records with a reasonable amount of effort,’” the lawsuit states.
In another federal case, Trump is facing 40 indictments alleging he took classified documents from the White House when he left office, hid them at his Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida, and lied to FBI agents about the documents.
There are another 34 charges filed against him in New York over the alleged scheme to pay off his mistress, pornstar Stormy Daniels.
In Georgia, Trump is charged in a RICO case alleging he and others, like former New York City Mayor Rudy Guiliani, conspired to overturn election results in the Peach State through a campaign of intimidation and overall criminality.
Despite his legal jeopardy, Trump has a solid lead in the GOP primary race and is favored to win the nomination. Two new polls were released Sunday, one from The Washington Post and ABC News, another from NBC News. In the latter, Trump had the backing of 59 percent of GOP primary voters nationwide. In the former, Trump is at 54 percent with the GOP and beat Biden in a head-to-head match-up of 52 to 42 percent.
Meanwhile, Ramaswamy’s fortunes appeared to be fading. He was at just two percent in the NBC News poll and three percent in the Washington Post/ABC News poll.