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President Barack Obama makes a "grumpy cat" face as he compared Republicans to the sad Internet cat while speaking to the Democratic National Committee 22nd Annual Women's Leadership Forum National Issues Conference in Washington, Friday, Oct. 23, 2015. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

The Obama administration reportedly spent $36 million to thwart FOIA requests last year

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The Obama administration reportedly spent $36.2 million in its final year in office on lawsuits defending its right to not turn over federal records.

Those lawsuits were tied to the Freedom of Information Act, which allows journalists and others to request that certain federal documents be made public. 

However, according to The Associated Press, the administration set a record for the second year in a row on how many times it told people it could not find even one page of a requested document.

President Barack Obama laughs during a news conference in the briefing room of the White House in Washington, Friday, Dec. 16, 2016. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
President Barack Obama laughs during a news conference in the briefing room of the White House in Washington, Friday, Dec. 16, 2016. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Former President Obama boasted that his administration was the "most transparent in history." However, it set records for denials of access to legal documents and for times people were forced to pay for records previously deemed free.

The number of FOIA lawsuits has spiked in the past four years, led by The New York Times, the Center for Public Integrity, and The Associated Press. The 788,769 requests last year set another record, costing $478 million overall to answer them.

Here's how the $36 million figure breaks down:

  • Justice Department: $12 million
  • Homeland Security Department: $6.3 million
  • Pentagon: $4.8 million

A spokesman for Obama did not return AP's request for comment.

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks on the phone with Prime Minister of Australia Malcolm Turnbull in the Oval Office of the White House, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017 in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks on the phone with Prime Minister of Australia Malcolm Turnbull in the Oval Office of the White House, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017 in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

President Trump has not spoken much about transparency. But he has required people on his campaign to sign non-disclosure agreements. He has also threatened to make it easier to sue journalists for libel.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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