State Dept. agrees to release documents on Giuliani communications

The State Department has agreed to turn over a cache of records featuring communications from President TrumpDonald John TrumpButtigieg surges ahead of Iowa caucuses Biden leads among Latino Democrats in Texas, California Kavanaugh hailed by conservative gathering in first public speech since confirmation MORE's personal attorney, Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiTrump knocks testimony from 'Never Trumpers' at Louisiana rally Jordan calls Pelosi accusing Trump of bribery 'ridiculous' Giuliani under investigation for alleged campaign finance, lobbying breaches: report MORE, on matters related to Ukraine, according to a joint status report filed in court late Wednesday. 

The agreement comes a little over a week after a federal judge ordered the State Department to begin turning over documents related to Giuliani's communications with top State officials.

The ruling came in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by American Oversight, an ethics watchdog group.

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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 PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoJudge rules American-born woman who joined ISIS not a US citizen Human rights: Help or hindrance to toppling dictators? The Hill's Morning Report - Fallout from day one of Trump impeachment hearing MORE, 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 search will include a review of text messages, messaging platforms, emails and calendar entries.

In addition, the department has agreed to American Oversight's request for records on any correspondence about Giuliani, diGenova or Toensing's plans to travel to Ukraine or encourage Ukrainian officials to investigate 2020 presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenButtigieg surges ahead of Iowa caucuses GOP eager for report on alleged FBI surveillance abuse Biden leads among Latino Democrats in Texas, California MORE and his son. 

The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill. 

The agreement between the State Department and American Oversight comes amid a fast-moving House impeachment inquiry into Trump's dealings with Ukraine.

The inquiry is centered around a whistleblower complaint accusing Trump and Giuliani of seeking a foreign nation's help in investigating Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, over unfounded allegations of corruption. 

Pompeo has so so far refused to comply with House Democrats' subpoena for documents related to the department's dealings with Ukraine. But he hinted last week in an interview with the Wichita Eagle that the department 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."  

Austin Evers, executive director at American Oversight, 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," Evers 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."