WASHINGTON DC, USA – An ethics group has published nearly 100 pages of documents obtained from the State Department that it says clearly detail contacts between President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer and the US secretary of state at a key point in the Ukraine affair.
The group American Oversight, a self-described non-partisan watchdog investigating the Trump administration, said the documents provide “a clear paper trial” of contacts in March between lawyer Rudy Giuliani and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
The group, which obtained the documents through a federal Freedom of Information Act request, does not claim to know what the two men discussed in the calls on March 26 and 29.
But the documents confirm contacts between the men roughly a month before then-US ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch was abruptly recalled.
The new information “reveals a clear paper trail from Rudy Giuliani to the Oval Office to Secretary Pompeo to facilitate Giuliani’s smear campaign against a US ambassador,” the director of American Oversight, Austin Evers, said in a statement.
Witnesses in the recent impeachment hearings in the US House of Representatives have described Giuliani as conducting a rogue operation, independent of the State Department’s mission, to pressure Kiev to investigate Trump’s domestic political opponents.
While the content of the two brief calls is unknown, they at least raise the question of whether there was a degree of coordination.
Yovanovitch testified before Congress that Giuliani had smeared her reputation, raising questions about her loyalty, presumably because she was unwilling to press the Ukrainians to investigate former US vice president Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, over the latter’s Ukraine business dealings.
There is no evidence that either Biden did anything illegal in Ukraine.
One email released by American Oversight appeared to show that Madeleine Westerhout, then Trump’s personal assistant, had helped connect Giuliani to Pompeo when he had difficulty making the call.
Gordon Sondland, the US ambassador to the European Union, testified on Wednesday that Pompeo “knew what we were doing, and why” regarding Ukraine’s assistance with investigations. “Everyone was in the loop,” he said.
Pompeo and other top Trump advisers have refused to testify.
The secretary of state reportedly is considering stepping down in order to run for a Senate seat in his home state of Kansas.
Trump has issued nearly daily denials of having done anything wrong, blasting the impeachment inquiry as a “witch hunt.” – Rappler.com