American Oversight Sues Justice Department for Ukraine-Related Communications

Despite the Trump administration’s best obstructionist efforts, new evidence continues to emerge of high-ranking officials’ involvement in the smear campaign against a U.S. ambassador and in the effort to pressure a foreign government to investigate the president’s rivals.

On Friday, American Oversight obtained and published State Department records showing contacts between Rudy Giuliani, the president’s lawyer, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Now, we’re suing the Department of Justice for the communications of top officials — including Attorney General William Barr — regarding Giuliani’s efforts in Ukraine, as well as those officials’ communications with Ukrainian government representatives or Giuliani and his associates themselves.

Questions about the Justice Department’s involvement in Trump’s politically motivated push for Ukraine to announce an investigation into Hunter Biden, the son of the former vice president, and the Ukrainian natural gas company of which he sat on the board, have swirled since the White House released in late September a summary “transcript” of a July 25 call between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. In that call, Trump said that he would ask Giuliani and Barr to contact Ukrainian regarding an investigation into Joe Biden and his son. “I will have Mr. Giuliani give you a call and I am also going to have Attorney General Barr call and we will get to the bottom of it,” the transcript said.

Since then, concerns have grown about the role the nation’s top law enforcement official is playing in promoting conspiracy theories about Ukraine having been the one to have meddled in the 2016 presidential election at the behest of Trump’s opponents (rather Russia having interfered in Trump’s favor, as is the consensus of the U.S. intelligence community). Barr has also directed U.S. Attorney John Durham to look into the origins of the investigation into Russian interference.

Today’s lawsuit against the Justice Department is part of American Oversight’s ongoing investigation into the Trump administration’s contacts with Ukraine, and brings the total number of related lawsuits to six, including three against the State Department (for a wide range of related communications); one against the Department of Energy (for records of former Secretary Rick Perry’s May 2019 delegation to Ukraine and his communications with Giuliani or Ukraine officials); and one against the Office of Management and Budget and the Department of Defense (for records related to the withholding of military aid to Ukraine).

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