On Tuesday evening, the Department of Energy released 139 pages of records in response to American Oversight’s Freedom of Information Act lawsuit seeking documents regarding the Trump administration’s Ukraine pressure campaign. These are the first impeachment-related documents publicly released by the Department of Energy. You can view and download the documents here.
The records include schedules, talking points and background materials prepared for former Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s briefing book for the May 2019 delegation he led to the inauguration of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Perry, along with Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland and former Special Envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, was one of the “three amigos” tasked by the White House to run the irregular foreign-policy channel in Ukraine centered on getting the country to announce an investigation of Joe Biden.
The talking points for Perry’s meeting with Zelensky reference energy sector reforms, including the statement “[Y]ou must be committed to make the hard choices on corruption and good governance reforms.” But serious discussion of the White House’s purported concern about Burisma and the Bidens seems to have been absent from the official briefing materials — a reminder of the parallel, “irregular” diplomatic efforts being made in the shadows, including by Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani. Also absent from the documents is the list of recommended energy advisers that Perry reportedly passed to Zelensky during one of their meetings, as well as any email communications regarding the White House meeting that Perry attended with the rest of the “three amigos” immediately upon his return to Washington.
One document lists attendees at a May 20 meeting in Kyiv whose participation in the delegation had not previously been reported: Assistant Secretary Ted Garrish, public affairs officer Dirk Vande Beek, and Deputy Press Secretary Jessica Szymanski. Former Trump campaign staffer Sam Buchan, a Perry senior adviser, was also present at many of the meetings. Other notable names in the documents are those of Sens. Ron Johnson and Rob Portman — two lawmakers who could have relevant information and have not committed to calling key witnesses in the ongoing Senate impeachment trial.
American Oversight has filed several FOIA requests with the Energy Department, filing a lawsuit in October for a range of records, including Perry’s communications with outside groups associated with U.S. energy interests in Ukraine as well as his communications with Giuliani or Giuliani’s associates. The lawsuit also seeks directives or memos regarding the energy company Burisma and records related to the May 2019 delegation.
The department agreed to make the first production of records on Jan. 28, 2020, prioritizing delegation-related records as well as Perry’s and former Chief of Staff Brian McCormack’s email communications containing key terms related to Ukraine. Notably, no such emails were included in this document production.
Subsequent productions in this lawsuit are scheduled for Feb. 4 and March 16. You can read more about our investigation of the Trump administration’s contacts with Ukraine here.
“As opening arguments in the impeachment trial come to a close, new evidence continues to emerge almost every day. Tonight marks the first time the public, or Congress, have seen documents from the Department of Energy, despite Secretary Rick Perry’s reported membership in the ‘three amigos’ running the president’s Ukraine scheme. This is just the first document to come out from Perry’s dealings with Ukraine, and more documents are coming next week and next month. Even in these pages there are clear lines of inquiry that the Senate should follow and names of witnesses to call.”
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