Documents provide ‘a clear paper trail’ of contacts between Rudy Giuliani and Mike Pompeo says American Oversight.
An ethics group has published nearly 100 pages of documents obtained from the US State Department that it says clearly detail contacts between President Donald Trump‘s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at a key point in the Ukraine affair.
American Oversight, a self-described non-partisan watchdog investigating the Trump administration, said the documents provided “a clear paper trail” of contacts in March between Giuliani and Pompeo.
The group, which obtained the documents through a federal Freedom of Information Act request, did not claim to know what the two men discussed in the calls on March 26 and March 29.
But the documents confirmed contacts between the men nearly a month before the 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”, American Oversight’s director, 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 Kyiv into investigating Trump’s domestic political opponents.
‘Everyone was in the loop’
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 the US Congress that Giuliani had smeared her reputation by 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 so far that either of the Bidens 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.
Al Jazeera’s John Hendren said the documents confirm what the administration officials had been saying in the impeachment hearings about there being two channels for the US foreign policy – one official and the other directed from the president through Giuliani.
“[The documents] add paper confirmation to the verbal things we’ve been hearing in those impeachment hearings – things that often the US administration has been denying,” Hendren said, speaking from Washington, DC.
Pompeo and other top Trump advisers have refused to testify. Pompeo is reportedly 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” against him.