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Presidential Studies Quarterly

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executive authority, judicial decision making, transparency, U.S. Dept. of Justice


Judges | Jurisprudence | Law | President/Executive Department


The Trump campaign and presidency were marked by multiple controversies centered on transparencyor the lack thereof. Prior to his election, then‐candidate Donald Trump broke with presidentialcampaign norms by refusing to release his tax returns. Attempts by Democratic‐controlled Housecommittees and Democratic New York state officials to access President Trump's tax records werecontested by Trump at every stage. The resulting court battles lasted throughout his presidency andeventually reached the U.S. Supreme Court.The Trump White House also broke with the Obamaadministration's practice of releasing White House visitor logs, removing from public view the record ofwho visited the White House and when (Kennedy,2017). At the same time, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) complaints and conflicts reached a record high, with greater delays faced by requesters, increased withholding of records, and suggestions of political appointee interference in the release of requested records.

Transparency conflicts continued well after the end of the Trump presidency. Trump sued the National Archives to prevent the agency from releasing documents to the January 6th Committee, which scrutinized the attack on the Capitol by the former president's supporters



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