Documents released late Friday by the State Department show how Rudy Giuliani was in contact with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo weeks before the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine was unceremoniously ousted from the post. The documents were released as part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by American Oversight and show 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,” said the group’s executive director, Austin Evers. American Oversight describes itself as a “non-partisan, nonprofit ethics watchdog” that is “the top Freedom of Information Act litigator investigating the Trump administration.”
The documents, which American Oversight published on its website, show there were two calls between Giuliani and Pompeo in March. That was a month before then–U.S. ambassador to the Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch was suddenly recalled to the United States before being removed from her post in May. Giuliani and Pompeo talked on March 26 and March 29. Also interesting is an email from March 27 that shows how Trump’s former personal assistant Madeleine Westerhout played a role in helping the two men connect after Giuliani’s people had “been trying and getting nowhere through regular channels.”
Although the documents don’t reveal what Giuliani and Pompeo talked about in the conversations, which only lasted a few minutes, they do appear to support the testimony of several witnesses in the impeachment probe who said the two spoke on efforts to try to get Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden. On Wednesday, for example, David Hale, undersecretary of state for political affairs, testified that Pompeo and Giuliani spoke on the phone twice in late March. The documents also appear to support the testimony by Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, that senior White House officials were well aware of what Giuliani was doing with Ukraine.
The date of the second call between the president’s lawyer and Pompeo also raised eyebrows because Giuliani had previously said he handed documents containing allegations against Biden “directly to the Secretary of State” on March 28, 2019. The new documents also show Pompeo spoke with Rep. Devin Nunes, the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee two days after the March 29 call with Giuliani.
American Oversight said the fact that it was able to obtain these documents through a FOIA request shows how lawmakers should be able to get them as well:
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.
Beyond the Giuliani-Pompeo contacts, the documents also show that before Bill Taylor took on the job as acting U.S. ambassador to the Ukraine he was one of six former Ukraine ambassadors to object to “recent uncorroborated allegations” about Yovanovitch. In his testimony to Congress, Taylor said that one of the reasons he hesitated to take on the job was because of the way Yovanovitch was treated.