Documents released by the State Department late Friday night reveal repeated contacts between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and President Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, prior to the ousting of former ambassador to Ukraine and an anti-corruption expert Marie Yovanovitch.
The documents include a March 27 email showing Trump’s former personal assistant helping to connect Giuliani with Pompeo after Giuliani’s team said it got “nowhere through regular channels.” The documents also appear to show a pair of phone calls between the two about a month before Yovanovitch was suddenly fired by President Trump.
The records were released as part of a Freedom of Information Act request by American Oversight, a nonprofit ethics watchdog organization. The group said the documents show a “clear paper trail” between Pompeo and Giuliani before the ambassador to Ukraine was abruptly dismissed from her post in May.
“It reveals a clear paper trail from Rudy Giuliani to the Oval Office to Secretary Pompeo to facilitate Giuliani’s smear campaign against a U.S. ambassador,” the group said in a statement. “This is just the first round of disclosures. The evidence is only going to get worse for the administration as its stonewall strategy collapses in the face of court orders.”
“This lawsuit is just one of several American Oversight is pursuing to bring transparency to the Ukraine investigation,” the group continued. “The public should expect more disclosures, over the administration’s strong objection, for the foreseeable future.”
A judge ordered the State Department last month to cooperate with American Oversight’s document request, which was filed in early October. The agency ultimately said on Oct. 31 that it would turn over the cache of records.
The document dump supports the testimony from several witnesses in the House impeachment investigation who testified that Pompeo and Giuliani spoke as Trump’s personal lawyer sought to get Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, one of Trump’s chief political rivals.
“Was there a ‘quid pro quo?’ The answer is yes,” U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland testified this week regarding questions surrounding if a White House meeting and call were tied to Ukraine’s announcement of investigations desired by Trump.
“Everyone was in the loop. It was no secret,” Sondland added.
Pompeo has publicly stayed quiet about the Ukraine ordeal, drawing criticism that he is not protecting State Department staffers, while Giuliani has drawn heightened scrutiny as part of the House impeachment inquiry.
Giuliani has emerged as a focal figure in the inquiry over his shadow campaign to remove Yovanovitch. The Trump lawyer believed the ambassador’s anti-corruption stance would be an obstacle to his efforts to convince Kyiv to investigate Biden on unfounded corruption allegations.
The White House has largely stonewalled the House’s request for testimony and documents, a stance American Oversight said was illegal based on their ability to obtain the State Department documents.
“That American Oversight could obtain these documents establishes that there is no legal basis for the administration to withhold them from Congress. That conclusively shows that the administration is engaged in obstruction of justice. The president and his allies should ask themselves if impeachment for obstruction is worth it if the strategy isn’t even going to be effective,” it said.