The Trump administration State Department has agreed to turn over records which include communications from President Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, concerning Ukraine, according to a late Wednesday joint status report filed in court.
The agreement to produce the cache of records comes a little over a week after a federal judge ordered the State Department to start handing over records related to Giuliani's communications with top department officials, in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed by ethics watchdog group American Oversight, according to The Hill.
The judge ruled that the department had 30 days to turn over the documents, but that both parties needed to meet to narrow the scope of American Oversight's request.
The State Department is agreeing to search for records related to external communications between Giuliani, his associates Victoria Toensing and Joseph diGenova and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, according to the status report released Wednesday.
The report says that "to the extent responsive records exist" the State Department will "process and produce" the documents "with appropriate redactions" by Nov. 22.
The department has also agreed to process communications between Giuliani and some of Pompeo's advisers, including including State Department counselor Ulrich Brechbuhl and former senior adviser Michael McKinley. -The Hill
The State Department search for records will include a review of emails, text messages, calendar entries and messaging platforms - as well as any correspondence regarding Giuliani, Toensing or diGenova's plans to travel to Ukraine or encourage the country's government to investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter, who have been accused of corruption.
Joe Biden infamously bragged in a 2018 recording that he used his position as Vice President to withhold $1 billion in US military aid unless Ukraine fired its top prosecutor - who was leading a probe into a gas firm paying Hunter Biden to sit on its board.
The FOIA release comes as Democrats push forward with an impeachment inquiry based on a CIA officer's second-hand whistleblower report concerning a July 25 phone call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky, in which Trump asked for investigations into Biden and pro-Clinton election meddling in 2016. The whistleblower, widely reported as Obama administration holdover Eric Ciaramella, also expressed concern over Giuliani's efforts in Ukraine.
Thus far, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has refused to comply with House Democrats' subpoena for documents related to Ukraine, however he did suggest last week during an interview that he would comply with the court order.
According to the status report, the State Department has also agreed to produce communications between certain government officials and any non-government individuals regarding Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.
It has also agreed to search for any "final directives" given to recall her in May. The search will be limited to communications between Pompeo, Brechbuhl and John Sullivan, the deputy secretary of State.
The whistleblower complaint has alleged that Yovanovitch's removal occurred because of accusations leveled by a former Ukrainian prosecutor. The State Department had called the allegations an "outright fabrication."
Meanwhile, the status report noted that the parties did not reach on agreement on including summaries and readouts of the July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The department claimed that the documents had a "high likelihood of being classified or privileged." -The Hill
American Oversight executive director Austin Evers said in a statement last week that the court order was "an important victory for the American people’s right to know the facts about Ukraine."
"While it is too early to say whether the State Department will ultimately meet the court’s order in letter and spirit, negotiations have begun in good faith," he said following the agreement. "The Trump administration would do well to treat congressional subpoenas with the same approach rather than trying to sustain a failing strategy of total obstruction."