The State Department has agreed to produce some Ukraine-related documents by November 22, according to a joint court filing Wednesday night from the department and watchdog group American Oversight.
There is not a full description yet of how many documents may emerge through this Freedom of Information Act production, but the agreement marks a promise by the State Department to search for documents, redact them, and give them to American Oversight by November 22.
That promise is significant as the State Department has not turned over requested documents to Capitol Hill. Witnesses have given documents to the State Department, which hasn’t given them to impeachment investigators.
American Oversight is now specifically seeking only communications from or to top State Department officials — including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo — when they’re communicating with people outside the government, including or about former US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch and President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
The State Department will also look into the records of Pompeo and two other officials for “final directives” to recall then-Ambassador Yovanovitch from her post.
Earlier this month, in response to an emergency motion from American Oversight, Judge Christopher Cooper ordered lawyers for the group and the State Department to come together to narrow the scope of the documents in the request — eliminating those that would likely be exempt from release — and produce documents in the next 30 days.
Cooper said that he could not think of a third party exemption that would prevent the release of correspondence between Giuliani and top State Department officials regarding Ukraine.
“The judge zeroed in on communications with Rudy Giuliani to be most subject to public disclosure. Why? Because he doesn’t work for the government,” American Oversight Executive Director Austin Evers told reporters at the time.
American Oversight had filed a lawsuit and asked for a preliminary injunction to compel the State Department to begin rapidly processing and releasing senior officials’ correspondence with Giuliani and other communications about efforts to pressure the Ukrainian government to open a political investigation. The lawsuit also sought the release of records related to the recall of Yovanovitch.