The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Legal Advocacy Organization Appeals Pentagon's Denial of FOIA Request about Trump Military Parade

In a February 2018 request, Free Speech For People described the planned military parade as an “abuse of executive power” and a corrupt use of resources for electoral purposes.


Free Speech For People, a nonpartisan legal advocacy organization, today filed an administrative appeal against a decision from the Department of Defense, which denied the release of records relating to former President Trump's planned military parade.

In February 2018, Free Speech For People sent a Freedom of Information Act request to the Department of Defense seeking documents related to Trump's planned military parade through the streets of Washington, D.C. The planned parade, they argue, would have constituted an abuse of executive power, and a corrupt attempt to use the resources of the United States military to stage a rally for Trump's re-election campaign. Trump ultimately abandoned the parade amidst overwhelming public disapproval.

The Pentagon's response on September 16, 2021, stated that it had located 2,026 records relevant to the request. However, it refused to release any records, citing national security, "deliberative process," and privacy exemptions with no further explanation. The Freedom of Information Act requires agencies to "segregate and release nonexempt information," and the exemptions cited by the Pentagon are limited in scope. Thus, the Pentagon is legally required to separate and release what may be a substantial portion of those records.

"The Pentagon's response was grossly inadequate," says Free Speech For People Legal Director Ron Fein. "Even if there are legitimate national security or privacy interests at stake with some of the information in the records, the government must redact that information and release redacted versions."

"The planned military parade was an unparalleled attempt by Trump to abuse his powers as Commander in Chief for political gain. It foreshadowed the authoritarian tendencies on full display last summer when Trump used the military and federal officers to crack down on peaceful protests," added Free Speech For People President John Bonifaz. "The public has a right to know what happened when Trump asked the military to stage a political rally for him."

The administrative appeal was sent to Joo Chung, Director of Oversight and Compliance in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and was submitted by Ron Fein, Legal Director, and Ben Horton, Legal Fellow, at Free Speech For People.

The Department of Defense is expected to reply to the appeal within twenty days. If it does not respond to the request, Free Speech For People may pursue litigation consistent with the FOIA.

Read the FOIA appeal here

Free Speech For People is a national non-partisan non-profit organization founded on the day of the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Citizens United v. FEC that works to defend our democracy and our Constitution.