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October 8, 2017

Via Email (FOIA.Resource@nrc.gov)


U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Mail Stop O-4 A15
Washington, DC 20555-0001

Re: Freedom of Information Act

To Whom It May Concern:

The Protect Democracy Project submits this FOIA request for records pertaining to
contacts involving the White House and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). For
years, Administrations of both parties have had in place policies limiting contacts between the
White House and independent agencies because of the distinctive statutory, jurisdictional, and/or
authority requirements of such agencies.1 To better understand whether there have been contacts
from the White House with the NRC, The Protect Democracy Project is seeking the following
types of records.

Requested Records

Pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. § 552, The Protect
Democracy Project hereby requests that your office produce within 20 business days the
following records (see below for clarity on the types of records sought):

1. Any and all records created or transmitted by or between White House staff, including
but not limited to their email addresses ending in “who.eop.gov,” including but not
limited to Jared Kushner, Stephen (Steve) Bannon, Reince Priebus, John F. Kelly, Justin
Clark, George Sifakis, Andrew Giuliani, Bill Stepien, Stephen Munisteri, Jennifer Korn,

1
See, e.g., C. Boyden Gray, Counsel to President George H.W. Bush, Memorandum for White
House Staff: Prohibited Contacts with Agencies (“White House staff members should avoid even
the mere appearance of interest or influence – and the easiest way to do so is to avoid discussing
matters pending before the independent regulatory agencies with interested parties and avoid
making ex parte contacts with agency personnel. Should an occasion arise in the course of your
duties where it appears necessary to discuss general policy matters with the staff of an
independent regulatory agency, you should first consult with the Office of the Counsel to the
President to determine whether such contact would be appropriate under the circumstances.”);
Jack Quinn, Counsel to President Bill Clinton, Kathleen Wallman and Stephen Neuwirth,
Memorandum for White House Staff: Contacts with Agencies, Jan. 16, 1996, pp. 3-6.

2020 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, #163, Washington, DC 20006


FOIA@protectdemocracy.org

1
Sarah Makin, Christopher Ford, Michael Catanzaro, George David Banks, and Dina
Powell, and NRC employees.

2. In addition to the records requested above, we also request records describing the
processing of this request, including records sufficient to identify search terms used and
locations and custodians searched, and any tracking sheets used to track the processing of
this request. If your agency uses FOIA questionnaires or certifications completed by
individual custodians or components to determine whether they possess responsive
materials or to describe how they conducted searches, we also request any such records
prepared in connection with the processing of this request.

The timeframe for this request is November 9, 2016 through the date that searches are conducted
for records responsive to this FOIA request.

FEE WAIVER

FOIA provides that any fees associated with a request are waived if “disclosure of the
information is in the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to public
understanding of the operations or activities of the government and is not primarily in the
commercial interest of the requester.” 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(4)(A)(iii). The core mission of The
Protect Democracy Project, a 501(c)(3) organization, is to inform public understanding on
operations and activities of the government. This request is submitted in consort with the
organization’s mission to gather and disseminate information that is likely to contribute
significantly to the public understanding of executive branch operations and activities. The
Protect Democracy Project has no commercial interests.

In addition to satisfying the requirements for a waiver of fees associated with the search
and processing of records, The Protect Democracy Project is entitled to a waiver of all fees
except “reasonable standard charges for document duplication.” 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(4)(A)(ii)(II).
Federal law mandates that fees be limited to document duplication costs for any requester that
qualifies as a representative of the news media. Id. The Protect Democracy Project operates in
the tradition of 501(c)(3) good government organizations that qualify under FOIA as “news
media organizations.” Like those organizations, the purpose of The Protect Democracy Project
is to “gather information of potential interest to a segment of the public, use its editorial skills to
turn the raw materials into distinct work, and distribute that work to an audience.” Nat’s Sec.
Archive v. Dep’t of Defense, 880 F.2d 1381, 1387 (D.C. Cir. 1989). As the District Court for the
District of Columbia “easily” determined in recent litigation in a separate FOIA request, The
Protect Democracy Project is “primarily engaged in disseminating information.” Protect
Democracy Project, Inc. v. U.S. Dep't of Def., No. 17-CV-00842 (CRC), 2017 WL 2992076, at
*5 (D.D.C. July 13, 2017). Indeed, The Protect Democracy Project has routinely demonstrated
the ability to disseminate information about its FOIA requests to a wide audience,2 including on

2
See, e.g., Lisa Rein, Watchdog group, citing “integrity of civil service,” sues Trump to find out if feds are being
bullied, Wash. Post (Apr. 27, 2017), https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2017/04/27/watchdog-
group-citing-integrity-of-civil-service-sues-trump-to-find-out-if-feds-are-being-bullied/; Ben Berwick, Going to

2020 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, #163, Washington, DC 20006


FOIA@protectdemocracy.org

2
the topic of this request.3 The Protect Democracy Project will disseminate information and
analysis about this request – and any information obtained in response – through its website
(protectdemocracy.org); its Twitter feed (https://twitter.com/protctdemocracy), which has more
than 10,000 followers; its email list of approximately 20,000 people; and sharing information
with other members of the press.

RESPONSIVE RECORDS

We ask that all types of records and all record systems be searched to discover records
responsive to our request. We seek records in all media and formats. This includes, but is not
limited to: agendas, manifests, calendars, schedules, notes, and any prepared documentation for
meetings, calls, teleconferences, or other discussions responsive to our request; voicemails; e-
mails; e-mail attachments; talking points; faxes; training documents and guides; tables of
contents and contents of binders; documents pertaining to instruction and coordination of
couriers; and any other materials. However, you need not produce press clippings and news
articles that are unaccompanied by any commentary (e.g., an email forwarding a news article
with no additional commentary in the email thread).

We ask that you search for records from all components of the Nuclear Regulatory
Commission that may be reasonably likely to produce responsive results, including but not
limited to the Offices of the Commissioners, Office of the General Counsel, and the Office of
Enforcement. We also ask that you search all systems of record, including electronic and paper,
in use at your agency, as well as files or emails in the personal custody of your employees, such
as personal email accounts, as required by FOIA and to the extent that they are reasonably likely
to contain responsive records. The Protect Democracy Project would prefer records in electronic
format, saved as PDF documents, and transmitted via email or CD-rom.

If you make a determination that any responsive record, or any segment within a record,
is exempt from disclosure, we ask that you provide an index of those records at the time you
transmit all other responsive records. In the index, please include a description of the record and
the reason for exclusion with respect to each individual exempt record or exempt portion of a
record, as provided by Vaughn v. Rosen, 484 F.2d 820 (D.C. Cir. 1973), cert. denied, 415 U.S.

Court for Civil Servants, Take Care (April 28, 2017), https://takecareblog.com/blog/going-to-court-for-civil-
servants; Charlie Savage, Watchdog Group Sues Trump Administration, Seeking Legal Rationale Behind Syria
Strike, N.Y. Times (May 8, 2017), https://nyti.ms/2pX82OV; Justin Florence, What’s the Legal Basis for the Syria
Strikes? The Administration Must Acknowledge Limits on its Power to Start a War, Lawfare (May 8, 2017),
https://www.lawfareblog.com/whats-legal-basis-syria-strikes-administration-must-acknowledge-limits-its-power-
start-war.
3
See Allison Murphy, Ten Questions for a New FBI Director, Take Care (June 6, 2017),
https://takecareblog.com/blog/ten-questions-for-a-new-fbi-director (analyzing and linking to the Department of
Justice contacts policy, which was disclosed in response to a Protect Democracy FOIA request); Edward-Isaac
Dovere, Liberal Groups: Delay FBI Director Vote Until Trump Promises to Keep Special Counsel, Politico, (July
25, 2017), http://www.politico.com/story/2017/07/25/delay-fbi-director-confirmation-christopher-wray-democrats-
240938 (reporting on Protect Democracy’s letter urging adoption of a robust contacts policy to prevent interference
with independence agencies, which attached Protect Democracy’s disclosure of FOIA-responsive documents from
White House compliance staff on the status of that policy).

2020 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, #163, Washington, DC 20006


FOIA@protectdemocracy.org

3
977 (1974). When you deem a portion of a record exempt, we ask that the remainder of the
record to be provided, as required by 5 U.S.C. § 552(b).

Given the 20-day statutory deadline, we hope to be as helpful as possible in clarifying or


answering questions about our request. Please contact me at
allison.murphy@protectdemocracy.org or (202) 417-2341 if you require any additional
information. We appreciate your cooperation, and look forward to hearing from you very soon.

Sincerely,

Allison F. Murphy
Counsel
The Protect Democracy Project

2020 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, #163, Washington, DC 20006


FOIA@protectdemocracy.org

4
NRC FORM 464 Part I U.S. NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION NRC RESPONSE NUMBER
(04-2018)

RESPONSE TO FREEDOM OF 2018-000115 1


INFORMATION ACT (FOIA) REQUEST RESPONSE
TYPE
INTERIM ✔ FINAL

REQUESTER: DATE:

Allison F. Murphy 04/27/2018


DESCRIPTION OF REQUESTED RECORDS:
Records pertaining to contacts involving the White House and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

PART I. -- INFORMATION RELEASED


The NRC has made some, or all, of the requested records publicly available through one or more of the following means:
(1) https://www.nrc.gov; (2) public ADAMS, https://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/adams.html; (3) microfiche available in the NRC Public
Document Room; or FOIA Online, https://foiaonline.regulations.gov/foia/action/public/home.

✔ Agency records subject to the request are enclosed.


Records subject to the request that contain information originated by or of interest to another Federal agency have been referred to
that agency (See Part I.D -- Comments) for a disclosure determination and direct response to you.
We are continuing to process your request.

✔ See Part I.D -- Comments.

PART I.A -- FEES


You will be billed by NRC for the amount indicated. Since the minimum fee threshold was not
AMOUNT met, you will not be charged fees.
You will receive a refund for the amount indicated.
Due to our delayed response, you will not
Fees waived. be charged fees.

PART I.B -- INFORMATION NOT LOCATED OR WITHHELD FROM DISCLOSURE

We did not locate any agency records responsive to your request. Note: Agencies may treat three discrete categories of law
enforcement and national security records as not subject to the FOIA ("exclusions"). See 5 U.S.C. 552(c). This is a standard
notification given to all requesters; it should not be taken to mean that any excluded records do, or do not, exist.

✔ We have withheld certain information pursuant to the FOIA exemptions described, and for the reasons stated, in Part II.

Because this is an interim response to your request, you may not appeal at this time. We will notify you of your right to appeal any of
the responses we have issued in response to your request when we issue our final determination.

✔ You may appeal this final determination within 90 calendar days of the date of this response. If you submit an appeal by mail,
address it to the FOIA Officer, at U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Mail Stop T-2 F43, Washington, D.C. 20555-0001. You may
submit an appeal by e-mail to FOIA.resource@nrc.gov. You may fax an appeal to (301) 415-5130. Or you may submit an appeal
through FOIA Online, https://foiaonline.regulations.gov/foia/action/public/home. Please be sure to include on your submission that it
is a “FOIA Appeal.”

PART I.C -- REFERENCES AND POINTS OF CONTACT

You have the right to seek assistance from the NRC's FOIA Public Liaison by submitting your inquiry at https://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/
foia/contact-foia.html, or by calling the FOIA Public Liaison at (301) 415-1276.

If we have denied your request, you have the right to seek dispute resolution services from the NRC's Public Liaison or the Office of
Government Information Services (OGIS). To seek dispute resolution services from OGIS, you may e-mail OGIS at ogis@nara.gov, send
a fax to (202) 741-5789, or send a letter to: Office of Government Information Services, National Archives and Records Administration,
8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD 20740-6001. For additional information about OGIS, please visit the OGIS website at
https://www.archives.gov/ogis.
NRC FORM 464 Part I U.S. NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION NRC RESPONSE NUMBER
(04-2018)

RESPONSE TO FREEDOM OF 2018-000115 1


INFORMATION ACT (FOIA) REQUEST RESPONSE
TYPE
INTERIM ✔ FINAL

PART I.D -- COMMENTS

Please note that this is the final response to your FOIA request previously assigned as FOIA/PA-2018-0022.

Signature - Freedom of Information Act Officer or Designee

Stephanie A. Blaney Digitally signed by Stephanie A. Blaney


Date: 2018.04.27 08:02:03 -04'00'
NRC FORM 464 Part II U.S. NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION NRC
(04-2018)
2018-000115
RESPONSE TO FREEDOM OF
INFORMATION ACT (FOIA) REQUEST DATE:

04/27/2018
PART II.A -- APPLICABLE EXEMPTIONS
Records subject to the request are being withheld in their entirety or in part under the FOIA exemption(s) as indicated below (5 U.S.C. 552(b)).

Exemption 1: The withheld information is properly classified pursuant to an Executive Order protecting national security information.

Exemption 2: The withheld information relates solely to the internal personnel rules and practices of NRC.

Exemption 3: The withheld information is specifically exempted from public disclosure by the statute indicated.

Sections 141-145 of the Atomic Energy Act, which prohibits the disclosure of Restricted Data or Formerly Restricted Data (42 U.S.C. 2161-2165).

Section 147 of the Atomic Energy Act, which prohibits the disclosure of Unclassified Safeguards Information (42 U.S.C. 2167).

41 U.S.C. 4702(b), which prohibits the disclosure of contractor proposals, except when incorporated into the contract between the agency and the

Other:
Exemption 4: The withheld information is a trade secret or confidential commercial or financial information that is being withheld for the reason(s)
indicated.
The information is considered to be proprietary because it concerns a licensee's or applicant's physical protection or material control and
accounting program for special nuclear material pursuant to 10 CFR 2.390(d)(1).
The information is considered to be another type of confidential business (proprietary) information.

The information was submitted by a foreign source and received in confidence pursuant to 10 CFR 2.390(d)(2).

Exemption 5: The withheld information consists of interagency or intraagency records that are normally privileged in civil litigation.

Deliberative process privilege.

Attorney work product privilege.

Attorney-client privilege.
Exemption 6: The withheld information from a personnel, medical, or similar file, is exempted from public disclosure because its disclosure would result
✔ in a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.
Exemption 7: The withheld information consists of records compiled for law enforcement purposes and is being withheld for the reason(s) indicated.

(A) Disclosure could reasonably be expected to interfere with an open enforcement proceeding.

(C) Disclosure could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.
(D) The information consists of names and other information the disclosure of which could reasonably be expected to reveal identities of confidential
sources.
(E) Disclosure would reveal techniques and procedures for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions, or guidelines that could reasonably be
expected to risk circumvention of the law.
(F) Disclosure could reasonably be expected to endanger the life or physical safety of any individual.

Other:

PART II.B -- DENYING OFFICIALS


In accordance with 10 CFR 9.25(g) and 9.25(h) of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission regulations, the official(s) listed
below have made the determination to withhold certain information responsive to your request.
APPELLATE OFFICIAL
DENYING OFFICIAL TITLE/OFFICE RECORDS DENIED EDO SECY

Stephanie Blaney FOIA Officer PII ✔

Select Title/Office from drop-down list

Select Title/Office from drop-down list

Select Title/Office from drop-down list

NRC Form 464 Part II (04-2018)