American Oversight has six lawsuits against the Trump administration for Ukraine-related records — including many records the administration refused to turn over to House investigators in the impeachment inquiry. Indeed, the White House’s unprecedented obstruction of congressional oversight was itself the subject of one of the two articles of impeachment voted on by the House in December 2019.
As the Senate trial looms without Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s having agreed to include relevant witnesses or documents, the Freedom of Information Act has remained one of the only ways to force the release of written evidence. American Oversight received our first set of documents in response to a court order in one of our FOIA lawsuits in November 2019, and additional productions of documents have followed each month. Below are all the records we have received in our investigation. More documents are coming — this list will be updated regularly.
We obtained the first set of documents in response to our lawsuit against the State Department for records of communications with or about Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani and his efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Bidens, as well as for records related to the recall of U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. Included in this release were records of March 2019 phone calls between Giuliani and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (p. 39), and an email in which then–Oval Office secretary Madeleine Westerhout helped put Giuliani’s assistant in touch with Pompeo (p. 55). Also in the production were letters outlining concerns over the press and administration attacks on Yovanovitch.
Additional documents in this lawsuit were released on Jan. 8, and more are expected.
This short, 5-page production was released in response to American Oversight’s lawsuit against the Defense Department and the Office of Management and Budget for directives or communications regarding the Ukraine scandal. The production includes emails from August through early October 2019 — the time that President Donald Trump was insisting on freezing aid to Ukraine — sent by Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Deputy Secretary David Norquist, and Mike Duffey, OMB’s associate director for national security programs who was reportedly given the authority by the White House to put a hold on the aid.
These records were also released as part of American Oversight’s first State Department lawsuit for documents related to Yovanovitch’s recall or Giuliani’s efforts. The 42 pages include several heavily redacted emails from senior officials as well as a letter from Undersecretary Brian Bulatao to Yovanovitch’s counsel instructing her not to testify or to produce documents in the House’s impeachment inquiry. Also included is the counsel’s reply, which said Yovanovitch “intends to comply with the subpoena and attend today’s scheduled deposition.”
More documents in this lawsuit are expected.
American Oversight received a production in its second Ukraine lawsuit against the State Department on Jan. 10, this production containing more than 70 pages of calendars and text messages of Kurt Volker, the former special envoy to Ukraine who had assisted Giuliani in arranging a meeting with a top Ukrainian official. Volker’s calendars show minimal entries, raising further questions, and while the text messages appear to be duplicative of those he provided to House investigators, they still, as the New York Times’ Eric Lipton said, make for “fascinating reading.”
More documents in this lawsuit are expected.
American Oversight received 192 pages of documents in its lawsuit against OMB and the Defense Department that include emails from OMB Acting Director Russell Vought and OMB Associate Director for National Security Michael Duffey — both key players in the withholding of aid to Ukraine in the fall of 2019.
These 139 pages were the first impeachment-related documents publicly released by the Energy Department. They include schedules, talking points and background materials prepared for former Secretary Rick Perry’s briefing book for the May 2019 delegation that Perry led to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky’s inauguration. The talking points reference the need for Ukraine to “make the hard choices on corruption,” and another document lists attendees at a May 20 meeting in Kyiv whose participation in the delegation had not previously been reported.
The Defense Department lifted redactions on an email American Oversight had obtained in the Dec. 20 document production, revealing that in an Aug. 31, 2019, message to Deputy Secretary David Norquist and Undersecretary John Rood, Defense Secretary Mark Esper mentioned both Zelensky and Ukraine security assistance funding — the very aid the president was using as leverage.
The Energy Department’s second release to American Oversight, this one 41 pages, contain emails between top officials and Houston businessman Michael Bleyzer, whom Perry had reportedly recommended for a seat on the board of Ukraine’s state-owned gas company Naftogaz.
Energy is scheduled to release additional documents in response to this lawsuit on March 16.