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Justice Department won’t release national monument documents

Craters of the Moon National Monument in eastern Idaho.

Idaho’s Craters of the Moon National Monument, an ocean of lava flows and sagebrush. President Donald Trump has proposed reducing national monuments in Utah, Nevada and Oregon.  File photo

Federal officials say they don’t have to provide an Idaho environmental law firm with documents possibly outlining legal justifications for President Donald Trump to shrink national monuments because they’re protected communications.

The U.S. Department of Justice on Nov. 15 asked a federal judge to dismiss the lawsuit from Advocates for the West.

The environmental law firm filed a public records request for documents on the national monuments earlier this year, and the Justice Department released more than 60 pages in May. The agency withheld 12 pages, however, contending that they are protected under attorney-client privilege and intra-agency communication rules.

Advocates for the West filed the lawsuit in Idaho’s U.S. District Court last month, asking a judge to force the government to turn over the information.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has recommended that Trump shrink national monuments in Utah, Nevada and Oregon.

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