State Department Agrees to Produce Ukraine Records to American Oversight by November 22

UPDATE: On Nov. 1, 2019, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that the State Department must also search for and produce records of readouts or summaries of the July 25 call between President Trump and President Zelensky.

In a court filing on Wednesday evening, the State Department agreed to release multiple categories of Ukraine-related records, including any communications with Rudy Giuliani, to American Oversight by Nov. 22.

Earlier this month, American Oversight filed a lawsuit and an emergency motion seeking the release of several sets of Ukraine-related records requested under the Freedom of Information Act. A federal court last week ordered the State Department to begin releasing records within 30 days and to work with us to identify narrower categories of documents — such as communications with people outside the government — that would likely not be exempt from release under FOIA.

On Wednesday, American Oversight and the State Department filed a joint status report, in which the agency agreed to search select senior officials’ text messages, messaging platforms, emails, and calendar entries to identify records of communications with individuals, like Giuliani, who are not government employees. These records include:

  • Communications between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo or other senior officials and Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani, Joseph diGenova, and Victoria Toensing;
  • Communications between senior officials and anyone outside the government regarding efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate Hunter Biden or regarding former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch; and
  • Copies of any directives recalling Yovanovitch from her position.

“Last week the court ordered the administration to sit down to negotiate a plan for the release of Giuliani-Ukraine documents before Thanksgiving,” said Austin Evers, executive director of American Oversight. “While it is too early to say whether the State Department will ultimately meet the court’s order in letter and spirit, negotiations have begun in good faith.”

So far, the State Department has not turned over documents requested by congressional investigators in the ongoing impeachment inquiry, and the White House has ordered officials not to comply with requests. But in an interview with the Wichita Eagle and the Kansas City Star, Pompeo said he saw “no reason” why the State Department would not comply with the court order.

“The Trump administration would do well to treat congressional subpoenas with the same approach rather than trying to sustain a failing strategy of total obstruction,” added Evers.

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