The Biden administration has come to the defense of staffers who worked for former President Donald Trump or Vice President Mike Pence after they left office.
Administration lawyers told a federal district court Wednesday that there was "no discernible public interest" in disclosing the identities of six taxpayer-funded staffers who worked for Trump or Pence, and doing so would "constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of their privacy."
U.S. Attorney Matthew Graves, who was nominated by President Joe Biden, was among the Department of Justice lawyers who filed the motion in response to Business Insider's October 2021 Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA).
Insider accused the GSA of violating federal law by failing to release a full accounting of Trump and Pence post-presidency staffers.
DOJ lawyers said the unidentified staffers' work for Trump or Pence "appears to be low-level." They added that "the individuals at issue are not public figures" and "their identities are not well-known to the public."
"GSA determined that disclosure of the six individuals' names would likely subject them to unwanted intrusions and media scrutiny," the DOJ lawyers wrote.
"Notably, within days of GSA's supplemental production that disclosed the names of three additional members of the outgoing administration's transition team, Plaintiff's publication Insider attempted to contact those members directly and published an article mentioning their names."
The Insider argued that the GSA incorrectly and illegally withheld requested information.
"Insider will fight to obtain this information for as long as it takes," said Darren Samuelsohn, the Insider's Washington bureau chief.
Samuelsohn added that the public had a right to know who it paid to work for Trump and Pence in the six months after Trump's second impeachment trial and the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack.
Insider reported that the Trump and Pence transition offices spent federal funds on such things as stationery and printer toner, according to records previously obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.
Those records also indicated that at least 17 former White House advisers received a federal salary and benefits working for Trump's post-presidential transition office.
GSA estimated that Trump's post-presidential staff would receive about $1.3 million in federal salary and benefits between Jan. 20, 2021, and July 21, 2022 when the formal transition period ends, Insider reported.
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