The Trump Administration’s Contacts with Ukraine

The evidence quickly mounted of former President Trump's troubling attempts to coerce a foreign government into helping attack his political rivals. American Oversight is investigating the extent of those efforts as well as the involvement of Trump personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and administration officials like Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The paper trail will only get longer.

American Oversight has combed through thousands of pages of public records to find instances in which officials met with key figures in the Ukraine investigation. We’ve also compiled an exhaustive list of those figures, from U.S. government officials to private citizens and Rudy Giuliani allies to foreign officials. Check it out here.

 

For a complete list of all the documents American Oversight has obtained in our multiple lawsuits for Ukraine-related records, go here.

Background

In September 2019, the Trump administration’s refusal to turn over to Congress an intelligence whistleblower complaint led to extraordinary revelations that former President Donald Trump had allegedly urged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate the son of former Vice President Joe Biden — a week after ordering the freeze of military aid to Ukraine. Equally concerning were unabashed claims from Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani that he had made similar efforts in talks with Ukrainian officials.

Giuliani had announced in May 2019 that he would travel to Ukraine to urge the government to investigate Hunter Biden’s involvement with a Ukrainian energy company as well as allegations (for which no evidence exists) that Joe Biden, then a potential 2020 Trump opponent, had played a role in the Ukrainian government’s dismissal of a prosecutor. The trip was canceled after widespread criticism, but Giuliani defended his actions by saying, “We’re not meddling in an election, we’re meddling in an investigation.” Before the announcement of the canceled trip, the State Department recalled the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, who had been under attack in conservative media for purportedly criticizing Trump in private conversations. 

Later that summer, however, the New York Times reported that Giuliani had renewed his efforts, secretly talking to Ukrainian official Andriy Yermak. After news surfaced of the whistleblower complaint involving Trump’s communications with Zelensky, additional reporting revealed that in mid-July Trump had ordered his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, to withhold Ukraine’s military aid. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) had subsequently instructed the Defense and State Departments to freeze the aid.

While Trump seesawed with his explanations about why he had withheld the $400 million, Giuliani wasted little time before appearing on cable news to admit that he had asked Ukraine to investigate Biden. Meanwhile, the State Department confirmed that it had assisted in connecting Giuliani with Yermak, a fact Giuliani boasted of on Fox News: “I was operating at the request of the State Department.”

On September 25, the day after Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that the House of Representatives would open an official impeachment inquiry into the president, the White House released a summary transcript of the call, which showed that Trump said he would direct Attorney General William Barr and Giuliani to call Zelensky. “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. The transcript also showed that Trump discussed the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Louise Yovanovitch, who had been recalled in May: “The former ambassador from the United States, the woman, was bad news and the people she was dealing with in the Ukraine were bad news so I just want to let you know that.”

The president’s actions constituted a dangerous violation of criminal law. The Trump White House’s blanket obstruction of all legislative oversight continued into the impeachment inquiry, with the order for administration officials not to comply with congressional requests. While some officials joined in Trump’s stonewalling, many others lined up to provide testimony to Congress, including Yovanovitch, Gordon Sondland, Kurt Volker, and Bill Taylor. Meanwhile, American Oversight continued its own investigation, seeking records from multiple federal agencies that could shed light both on Giuliani’s contacts with the Ukrainian government and on the president’s potential freezing of congressionally approved military aid in an attempt to influence the upcoming 2020 election.

Litigation

On Oct. 1, 2019, American Oversight sued the State Department for records of communications with or about Giuliani and his efforts, as well as for records related to the recall of U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. The public’s urgent need for answers led American Oversight to file a motion for a preliminary injunction on Oct. 4 to compel the government to immediately begin processing and producing documents. On Oct. 25, a federal judge ordered the State Department to begin producing records by Nov. 22, and a week later the court ruled that the agency must also search for and produce records of readouts or summaries of the July 25 call. On Nov. 22, the State Department produced records showing March 2019 calls between Pompeo and Giuliani, and an email in which Trump’s personal secretary helped put Giuliani in touch with Pompeo.

On Oct. 12, 2019, American Oversight sued the State Department for emails sent by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo or other senior officials referencing President Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden, or Ukrainian-born businessmen Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman. The lawsuit also sought the calendars of former Ukraine special representative Kurt Volker and his communications with Giuliani.

On Oct. 22, 2019, American Oversight sued the Department of Energy for records of Secretary Rick Perry’s May 2019 delegation to the inauguration of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The lawsuit also seeks records from Perry and Deputy Secretary Dan Brouillette including communications with Giuliani, details of Perry’s other meetings with Ukrainian officials, and correspondence with key individuals and entities associated with the effort to pressure the Ukrainian government.

On October 25, 2019, American Oversight sued the Office of Management and Budget for records related to the Ukraine effort, including: copies of directives or decision memos regarding military or other aid to Ukraine; communications with Congress about the aid funding; and emails sent by Director Mick Mulvaney and other senior officials referencing a list of terms relating to the aid program, Hunter Biden, or Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani. On November 7, this lawsuit was amended to add several FOIAs filed with the Department of Defense seeking related records.

On Nov. 8, American Oversight filed a lawsuit against the State Department for records of Sondland’s communications with Giuliani and Giuliani’s associates, or about the efforts to pressure Ukraine. The lawsuit also seeks Sondland’s calendar entries.

On Nov. 25, American Oversight sued the Department of Justice for communications between agency officials and the president’s personal lawyers, including Rudy Giuliani, as well as Ukrainian officials. The lawsuit also seeks DOJ communications about the effort to pressure the Ukrainian government to investigate Trump’s political opponents.

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The pressure on the president and his administration has been even further intensified thanks to the release of damaging text messages sent by government officials.

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American Oversight Statement on Impeachment Inquiry

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An impeachment investigation is absolutely warranted in light of the extraordinary allegations about President Trump's dealings with Ukraine.

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Agency Reply
January 13, 2020

Joint Status Report: American Oversight v. DOE – Perry and Brouillette’s Ukraine Records and Communications

Department of Energy
Litigation
January 10, 2020

FOIA to SBA Seeking Communications Between Former Administrator McMahon and Rudy Giuliani

Small Business Administration
FOIA Request
January 8, 2020

State Department Records of Ukraine-Related Communications with Department Officials

Department of State
Agency Record
January 8, 2020

FOIA to OMB Seeking Senior Officials’ Communications with Giuliani

White House - Office of Management and Budget
FOIA Request
December 23, 2019

USAID Records Regarding Directives to Withhold Aid from Ukraine

U.S. Agency for International Development
Agency Record
December 23, 2019

FOIA to Multiple Agencies for Emails Related to Ukraine Funding

Department of Defense, White House - Office of Management and Budget
FOIA Request
December 23, 2019

FOIA to State Seeking Ambassador Cornstein’s Personal Emails

Department of State
FOIA Request
December 23, 2019

FOIA to State Seeking Ambassador Cornstein’s Text Messages

Department of State
FOIA Request
December 23, 2019

FOIA to State Seeking All Records Reflecting Ambassador Cornstein’s Communications with Rudy Giuliani

Department of State
FOIA Request
December 20, 2019

DOD Senior Officials Emails Containing Terms Related to Ukraine

Department of Defense
Agency Record
December 18, 2019

FOIA to State Seeking Records Regarding Rudy Giuliani’s December 2019 Trip to Ukraine and Hungary

Department of State
FOIA Request
December 16, 2019

Joint Status Reports: American Oversight v. OMB and DOD – Directives and Communications Concerning Ukraine

Department of Defense, White House - Office of Management and Budget
Litigation
December 13, 2019

Minute Order: American Oversight v. State – Ukraine and Giuliani Communications

Department of State
Litigation
December 13, 2019

FOIA to FBI Seeking Records of Rudy Giuliani’s Communications with New York Office FBI Agents in 2016

Department of Justice, DOJ - Federal Bureau of Investigation
FOIA Request
December 12, 2019

FOIA to OMB Seeking Communications with Select Individuals Engaged in Impeachment Proceedings

White House - Office of Management and Budget
FOIA Request
December 12, 2019

FOIA to State Seeking Communications with Select Individuals Engaged in Impeachment Proceedings

Department of State
FOIA Request
December 12, 2019

FOIA to DOD Seeking Communications with Select Individuals Engaged in Impeachment Proceedings

Department of Defense
FOIA Request
December 11, 2019

State Department Declaration: American Oversight v. State – State Department Officials’ Ukraine Communications

Department of State
Litigation
December 8, 2019

USTR Communications Regarding Plans to Encourage Foreign Governments to Investigate the President’s Political Opponents

White House - Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
Agency Record
December 6, 2019

FOIA to DOJ for Records Reflecting Communications Between Ethics Officials and the Attorney General Concerning Ukraine-Related Matters

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
December 6, 2019

FOIA to DOJ for Final Recusal Guidance Provided to the Attorney General Concerning Ukraine-Related Matters

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
December 3, 2019

USTR Communications with Rudy Giuliani and Trump Allies Regarding Foreign Government Investigations into Political Opponents of the President 

White House - Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
Agency Record
December 2, 2019

Joint Status Report: American Oversight v. State – Agency Records Regarding Giuliani, Volker, Parnas, and Fruman

Department of State
Litigation
December 2, 2019

USTR Communications with Rudy Giuliani and Trump Allies Regarding Foreign Government Investigations into Political Opponents of the President 

White House - Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
Agency Record
November 26, 2019

Joint Status Report No. 2: American Oversight v. State — State Department Officials’ Ukraine Communications

Department of State
Litigation
November 25, 2019

Complaint: American Oversight v. DOJ – DOJ Officials’ Ukraine Communications

Department of Justice
Litigation
November 22, 2019

State Department Records of Giuliani and Ukraine-Related Communications with Department Officials, Including Secretary Pompeo

Department of State
Agency Record
November 22, 2019

FOIA to DOE Seeking Records Relating to Meetings Between Secretary Perry and Ukrainian Energy Interests

Department of Energy
FOIA Request
November 22, 2019

FOIA to DOE Seeking Records Relating to Secretary Perry’s List of Trusted People Given to President Zelensky

Department of Energy
FOIA Request
November 22, 2019

FOIA to DOD Seeking Correspondence Regarding the Withholding of Aid from Ukraine

Department of Defense
FOIA Request
November 22, 2019

FOIA to DOD Seeking Email Communications Regarding the Withholding of Aid from Ukraine

Department of Defense
FOIA Request
November 20, 2019

FOIA to Commerce Seeking Emails Concerning Any Effort to Pressure China or Ukraine to Investigate the President’s Political Rivals

Department of Commerce
FOIA Request
November 20, 2019

FOIA to Commerce Seeking Communications Concerning Any Effort to Pressure China or Ukraine to Investigate the President’s Political Rivals

Department of Commerce
FOIA Request
November 20, 2019

FOIA to Treasury Seeking Emails Concerning Any Effort to Pressure China or Ukraine to Investigate the President’s Political Rivals

Department of the Treasury
FOIA Request
November 20, 2019

FOIA to Treasury Seeking Communications Concerning Any Effort to Pressure China or Ukraine to Investigate the President’s Political Rivals

Department of the Treasury
FOIA Request
November 20, 2019

FOIA to DOJ Seeking Communications Regarding Efforts to Investigate Theories Related to Ukraine’s Involvement in the 2016 Presidential Election

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
November 20, 2019

FOIA to DOJ Seeking Copies of Mutual Legal Assistance Requests Between DOJ and the Ukrainian Government

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
November 20, 2019

FOIA to DOJ Seeking Email Communications of Senior DOJ Officials Regarding Acting White House Chief of Staff’s Press Conference in October 2019

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
November 15, 2019

FOIA to DOE Seeking Communications with Roy Bailey

Department of Energy
FOIA Request
November 8, 2019

Complaint: American Oversight v. State — Sondland’s Ukraine Communications and Calendar Entries

Department of State
Litigation
November 8, 2019

Complaint: American Oversight v. DOE — Perry and Brouillette’s Ukraine Records and Communications

Department of Energy
Litigation
November 7, 2019

Complaint: American Oversight v. OMB and DOD — Directives and Communications Concerning Ukraine

Department of Defense, White House - Office of Management and Budget
Litigation
November 6, 2019

FOIA to State Seeking Records Related to Congressional Inquiries and Lack of Support for Career Foreign Service Officers

Department of State
FOIA Request
November 4, 2019

FOIA to State Seeking Communications Between Senior Officials and Congressional Entities with Ukraine Interests

Department of State
FOIA Request
November 4, 2019

Public Records Request to Florida Governor Seeking Communications Between Florida State Officials and Rudy Giuliani and His Associates

Florida Office of the Governor
FOIA Request
November 1, 2019

Opinion and Order No. 2: American Oversight v. State – Ukraine and Giuliani Communications

Department of State
Litigation
November 1, 2019

FOIA to USTR for Communications with Rudy Giuliani and Trump Allies Regarding Plans to Encourage Foreign Governments to Investigate Political Opponents of the President

White House - Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
FOIA Request
October 30, 2019

Joint Status Report: American Oversight v. State — State Department Officials’ Ukraine Communications

Department of State
Litigation
October 29, 2019

FOIA to DOJ Seeking Communications Related to Efforts to Pressure the Ukrainian Government to Investigate the President’s Political Opponents

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
October 29, 2019

FOIA to DOJ Seeking Communications Between DOJ Counsel Brady Toensing and External Individuals Including Trump’s Personal Attorney Rudy Giuliani

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
October 25, 2019

Opinion and Order Granting Motion: American Oversight v. State – Ukraine Communications

Department of State
Litigation
October 25, 2019

FOIA to State Seeking All Communications Between Former USUN Ambassador Nikki Haley and the President’s Personal Attorney Rudy Giuliani

Department of State
FOIA Request
October 25, 2019

FOIA to DOJ Seeking Brady Toensing’s Calendars, Ethics Documents, and External Communications

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
October 24, 2019

FOIA to USTR Seeking Communications Regarding Plans to Encourage Foreign Governments to Investigate the President’s Political Opponents

White House - Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
FOIA Request
October 24, 2019

Hearing Transcript: American Oversight v. State – State Department Officials’ Ukraine Communications

Department of State
Litigation
October 18, 2019

Reply Motion: American Oversight v. State – State Department Officials’ Ukraine Communications

Department of State
Litigation
October 18, 2019

Transcript: American Oversight v. State – State Department Officials’ Ukraine Communications

Department of State
Litigation
October 12, 2019

Complaint: American Oversight v. State – Agency Records Regarding Giuliani, Volker, Parnas, and Fruman

Department of State
Litigation
October 11, 2019

FOIA to DOD Seeking Legal Analysis Regarding the Withholding of Funds Appropriated for Ukraine

Department of Defense
FOIA Request
October 11, 2019

FOIA to State Seeking Communications with Former Special Representative Kurt Volker

Department of State
FOIA Request
October 9, 2019

FOIA to DOE Seeking Sent Emails of Senior Officials Regarding Ukraine

Department of Energy
FOIA Request
October 9, 2019

FOIA to DOE Seeking Materials Related to Secretary Perry’s Meetings with Ukrainian Officials Since May 2019

Department of Energy
FOIA Request
October 9, 2019

FOIA to DOE Seeking Communications with Outside Individuals Associated with U.S. Energy Interests in Ukraine and Allies of Rudy Giuliani

Department of Energy
FOIA Request
October 8, 2019

FOIA to State Seeking Communications Regarding Plans to Pressure Ukraine to Investigate the President’s Political Opponents

Department of State
FOIA Request
October 8, 2019

FOIA to State Seeking Communications with Rudy Giuliani Regarding Any Plan to Pressure Ukraine to Investigate One of the President’s Political Opponents

Department of State
FOIA Request
October 8, 2019

FOIA to State Seeking Ambassador Sondland’s Text Messages Regarding Agency Business

Department of State
FOIA Request
October 8, 2019

FOIA to DOJ Seeking the Communications between the Offices of the Attorney and the Deputy Attorney General and U.S. Attorney John Durham

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
October 7, 2019

No Records Response from DOJ Regarding Orders Directing Attorney Durham to Review the Origins of the Russia Investigation

Department of Justice
Agency Reply
October 7, 2019

FOIA to State Seeking Communications with the Office of the Vice President

Department of State
FOIA Request
October 7, 2019

FOIA to State Seeking Records Related to Vice President Pence’s Communications with Ukrainian President Zelensky

Department of State
FOIA Request
October 7, 2019

FOIA to State Seeking Records Related to Vice President Pence’s August and September 2019 European Trips

Department of State
FOIA Request
October 7, 2019

FOIA to DOJ Seeking Records of Attorney General Barr’s Travel to Support Investigating the Russia Investigation or Candidates in the 2020 Election

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
October 7, 2019

FOIA to DOJ Seeking Communications Between William Barr and Any Foreign Government Regarding the Origins of the Russia Investigation or Candidates in the 2020 Election

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
October 4, 2019

FOIA to DOJ Seeking Communications Related to Potential Prosecution of the Ukraine Whistleblower

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
October 4, 2019

FOIA to DOJ Seeking Any Analysis Related to Potential Prosecution of the Ukraine Whistleblower

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
October 4, 2019

FOIA to DOJ Seeking Any Prosecution Declination Records Related to the Ukraine Whistleblower Complaint

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
October 4, 2019

FOIA to DOJ Seeking Travel Expenses of Prosecutor Assigned to Investigate Sensitive Matters, Including Intelligence and FBI Actions Related to the 2016 Election

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
October 4, 2019

FOIA to DOJ Seeking Communications with Key Terms Related to Ukraine or with President Trump’s Personal Lawyers

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
October 4, 2019

FOIA to DOJ Seeking Communications with Ukraine or with President Trump’s Personal Lawyers

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
October 4, 2019

PI Motion: American Oversight v. State – State Department Officials’ Ukraine Communications

Department of State
Litigation
October 2, 2019

FOIA to DOE Seeking Records of Chief of Staff McCormack Relating to the U.S. Delegation to Ukraine Led by Secretary Perry

Department of Energy
FOIA Request
October 2, 2019

FOIA to DOE Seeking Communications Reflecting Efforts to Pressure Ukraine to Investigate the President’s Political Opponents

Department of Energy
FOIA Request
October 1, 2019

Complaint: American Oversight v. State – State Department Officials’ Ukraine Communications

Department of State
Litigation
September 28, 2019

Letter to State Department: Preservation of Volker Text Messages

Department of State
September 27, 2019

No Records Response from DOD Regarding President Trump’s Call with Ukrainian President Zelensky

Department of Defense
Agency Reply
September 26, 2019

FOIA to DOE Seeking Records Relating to the U.S. Delegation to Ukraine Led by Secretary Perry

Department of Energy
FOIA Request
September 26, 2019

FOIA to State for U.S. Ukraine Representative Volker’s Text Messages with Giuliani

Department of State
FOIA Request
September 26, 2019

FOIA to State for Counselor T. Ulrich Brechbuhl’s Notes From Trump’s Calls with Ukrainian President

Department of State
FOIA Request
September 25, 2019

FOIA to Multiple Agencies Seeking Records Regarding President Trump’s Call with Ukrainian President Zelensky

Department of Defense, Department of Justice, Department of State, Office of the Director of National Intelligence
FOIA Request
September 25, 2019

FOIA to DOJ Seeking Records Reflecting Efforts to Pressure Ukraine to Investigate the President’s Political Opponents

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
September 25, 2019

FOIA to State Seeking Calendars of U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland

Department of State
FOIA Request
September 25, 2019

FOIA to State Seeking Records Reflecting Efforts to Pressure Ukraine to Investigate the President’s Political Opponents

Department of State
FOIA Request
September 25, 2019

FOIA to State Seeking Communications Related to Efforts by Rudy Giuliani to Encourage Ukrainian Investigations

Department of State
FOIA Request
September 24, 2019

FOIA to Treasury Seeking Records Reflecting Efforts to Pressure Ukraine to Investigate the President’s Political Opponents

Department of the Treasury
FOIA Request
September 24, 2019

FOIA to State seeking Communications Regarding Efforts to Meddle in Ukrainian Investigations

Department of State
FOIA Request
September 24, 2019

FOIA to State Seeking Communications Related to Efforts to Pressure Ukraine to Investigate the President’s Political Opponent

Department of State
FOIA Request
September 24, 2019

FOIA to OMB Seeking Communications with Congress Related to Efforts to Pressure Ukraine to Investigate the President’s Political Opponents

White House - Office of Management and Budget
FOIA Request
September 24, 2019

FOIA to OMB Seeking Records Related to Efforts to Pressure Ukraine to Investigate the President’s Political Opponents

White House - Office of Management and Budget
FOIA Request
September 24, 2019

FOIA to DOJ Seeking Communications Related to Efforts to Pressure Ukraine to Investigate the President’s Political Opponents

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
September 24, 2019

FOIA to DOJ Seeking Records Regarding a Whistleblower Complaint to Congress or the Withholding of Aid for Ukraine

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
September 24, 2019

FOIA to DOD Seeking Communications Reflecting Efforts to Pressure Ukraine to Investigate the President’s Political Opponents

Department of Defense
FOIA Request
September 24, 2019

FOIA to Multiple Agencies Seeking Any Directives to Withhold Aid from Ukraine

Department of Defense, Department of State, U.S. Agency for International Development, White House - Office of Management and Budget
FOIA Request
September 11, 2019

FOIA to State Seeking Email Communications Related to Efforts by Rudy Giuliani to Encourage Ukrainian Investigations

Department of State
FOIA Request
September 11, 2019

FOIA to State Seeking Calendars of Ukraine Special Representative Volker

Department of State
FOIA Request
August 28, 2019

Complaint: American Oversight v. DOJ — Durham Investigation Directives and Guidance

Department of Justice
Litigation
August 26, 2019

Complaint: American Oversight v. DOJ — John Durham’s Inquiry into the Russia investigation

Department of Justice
Litigation
August 23, 2019

FOIA to State Seeking Communications Regarding Ukraine Envoy Kurt Volker’s Contacts with Rudy Giuliani

Department of State
FOIA Request
June 21, 2019

FOIA to DOJ Seeking Communications With Congress and the White House Regarding Investigations into the President

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
June 7, 2019

FOIA to DOJ Seeking Records Identifying the Authority Under Which the US Attorney John Durham was Directed to Review the Origins of the Russia Investigation

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
June 7, 2019

FOIA to DOJ Seeking Guidance and Directives Related to US Attorney Durham’s Review of the Origins of the Russia Investigation

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
June 7, 2019

FOIA to DOJ Seeking the Communications between the Offices of the Attorney and the Deputy Attorney General and US attorney John Durham

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
June 6, 2019

FOIA to DOJ Seeking the Attorney General’s Order Directing US Attorney Durham to Review the Origins of the Russia Investigation

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
May 21, 2019

FOIA to State Seeking Communications with the President’s Personal Lawyers or Communications Regarding Efforts to Meddle in Ukrainian Investigations

Department of State
FOIA Request
May 21, 2019

FOIA to State Seeking Records Related to the Recall of the Career Civil Servant Ambassador to Ukraine

Department of State
FOIA Request