Jan 19, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Trump era sets FOIA record

Data: The FOIA Project; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios
Data: The FOIA Project; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

More Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests were filed during the past four years than at any time in American history, per the FOIA Project, a non-profit project that gathers comprehensive information on federal FOIA decisions.

By the numbers: During the Trump administration, the media filed a total of 386 FOIA cases. That's more than all of the FOIA cases filed by the media during the 16 years of the Bush and Obama administrations combined.

Why it matters: FOIAs help the public the access records from federal agencies to help ensure a level of transparency and accountability within government.

Between the lines: Buzzfeed News has by far led media companies in FOIA filings during the Trump administration, followed by The New York Times.

  • Buzzfeed's FOIA requests have resulted in some of its best work over the past 4 years, including obtaining the un-redacted Mueller report and underlying FBI interviews, and the criminal referral letter from the Inspector General for the intelligence community that led to Trump's first impeachment.
  • A Buzzfeed spokesperson tells Axios that scoops from FOIA requests have racked up millions of total page views.
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