Justice Dept. Fails To Comply With Court Order To Release Details On Sessions Russia Contacts

NPR is reporting that the Justice Department has failed to comply with a Federal District Court’s Order that it provide a list of the Attorney General’s contacts with Russian officials:

In defiance of a court order, the Justice Department is refusing to release part of a security form dealing with Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ contacts with the Russian government.

On June 12, a judge had ordered the agency to provide the information within 30 days, a deadline which passed on Wednesday.

A recently-launched ethics watchdog group called American Oversight filed a Freedom of Information Act request in March for sections of the Standard Form 86 relating to Sessions’ contacts “with any official of the Russian government.”

The group then filed a lawsuit in April after it said the government didn’t provide the documents.

“Jeff Sessions is our nation’s top law enforcement officer, and it is shocking one of his first acts after being named Attorney General was to mislead his own agency about a matter of national security,” the group’s executive director, Austin Evers, said in a statement.

He continued: “The court gave DOJ thirty days to produce Attorney General Sessions’s security clearance form, DOJ has already confirmed its contents to the press and Sessions has testified about it to Congress, so there is no good reason to withhold this document from the public.”

On Wednesday, a spokesperson for the Justice Department had told NPR that the documents would be released by the deadline, NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly reports.

The Standard Form 86, more commonly called SF86, is a very detailed form required to be filled out for obtaining security clearance for certain government positions. It’s the same form presidential adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner has recently had to revise after omitting meetings with Russian officials.

Court Ordrs such as this are generally not self-enforcing, so in order for the Justice Department to suffer any consequences from failing to comply with the Order would have to be preceded by the Plaintiffs in the underlying Freedom of Information Act litigation to file a motion with the Judge who issued the order seeking sanctions for noncompliance. Potential sanctions could include everything from forcing the government to pay the attorneys fees incurred by the Plaintiffs in seeking to have the order enforced to the non-complying part to holding the non-complying party in contempt of court. If the Justice Department complies with the Order in the intervening time, then any such motion would likely be withdrawn.

FILED UNDER: Law and the Courts, US Politics, , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. MarkedMan says:

    What is he hiding?

  2. Mr. Prosser says:

    Steve M. notes that the Trump administration obeyed court orders not to enforce the travel ban until it could be further reviewed but there is defiance here. “It’s a small thing, but of course it would be Russia that provoked this level of defiance. Even more than the most vindictive, base-rallying policies, this seems to be what matters most to the Trumpers.”

  3. al-Ameda says:

    The Standard Form 86, more commonly called SF86, is a very detailed form required to be filled out for obtaining security clearance for certain government positions. It’s the same form presidential adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner has recently had to revise after omitting meetings with Russian officials.

    I can see all those guys, in the White House basement on a Saturday morning ‘revising’ their SF86 forms.
    Sessions: “Oh my, I forgot to mention those Russian contacts. How did that happen?”
    Kushner:“Me too, I must have been preoccupied with dad’s slum properties in Baltimore or something.”
    Flynn: “Yeah, I was washing my hair, or had a headache, one of those.”
    Sessions: “Do we use a No. 2 pencil?”
    Kushner: “Of course, it makes it easier if you have to go back and change your statement at a later date.”
    Flynn: “Shouldn’t we have legal counsel review these SF86s before we resubmit them?”
    Sessions: “I’m the Attorney General, I don’t think that’s necessary..”
    Kushner: “Wait a minute. Didn’t you recuse yourself from this stuff?”
    Flynn: “Does the Coke Machine take Russian coins?”
    All: {{{hahahahahaha hahahaha hahahahaha}}}

  4. gVOR08 says:

    Might as well get used to the idea that the administration will ignore court orders. As Jackson said, “John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it.” This is going to get a lot worse.

  5. Mister Bluster says:

    Gotta’ wonder if the John N. Mitchell Memorial Prison Cell is available at Maxwell AFB just in case.

    On February 21, 1975, Mitchell, who was represented by the criminal defense attorney William G. Hundley, was found guilty of conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and perjury and sentenced to two and a half to eight years in prison for his role in the Watergate break-in and cover-up, which he dubbed the “White House horrors.” As a result of the conviction, Mitchell was disbarred from the practice of law in New York. The sentence was later reduced to one year from four years by United States district court Judge John J. Sirica. Mitchell served only 19 months of his sentence at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama, a minimum-security prison, before being released on parole for medical reasons. Tape recordings made by President Nixon and the testimony of others involved confirmed that Mitchell had participated in meetings to plan the break-in of the Democratic Party’s national headquarters in the Watergate Hotel. In addition, he had met, on at least three occasions, with the president in an effort to cover up White House involvement after the burglars were discovered and arrested.

  6. Gustopher says:


    The reality is that the DOJ released a heavily redacted SF-86, wherein he states that he had not met any foreign officials over the past 7 years.


    They didn’t ignore the court order, they complied by releasing Session’s fraudulent, perjuring form, heavily redacted.

  7. Mister Bluster says:

    @Mister Bluster:.. I am often annoyed when I read something and it is clear that the author or poster assumes that I know who or what they are talking about.
    Only after reading my recent copy and paste several times did I realise that I should not expect all OTB visitors to know that John N. Mitchell “served” as Attorney General of the United States under Richard M. Nixon from January 1969 to March 1972.
    mea culpa

  8. Mr. Prosser says:

    @Mister Bluster: If you are like me you are as old as Phineas T. Bluster and, fortunately, still remember things.

  9. Mister Bluster says:

    My memory can be selective.
    I don’t know why but for some reason your avatar reminds me of the day Zig-Zags went from 5 cents to 10 cents a pack.
    Damn near broke me!
    I had to switch to draft beer from cans to cover the lost nickel.
    Of course the sacrifice was worth it.