State Dept. docs show Pompeo, Giuliani contacts before ouster of Ukraine ambassador

The State Department late Friday night released nearly 100 pages of documents showing repeated contacts between Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - George Floyd's death sparks protests, National Guard activation Government watchdog: 'No evidence' Pompeo violated Hatch Act with Kansas trips Inspector general fired over leaks had been cleared of wrongdoing before ouster: report MORE and Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiSunday shows preview: States begin to reopen even as some areas in US see case counts increase Moussaoui says he now renounces terrorism, bin Laden Democrats launch probe into Trump's firing of State Department watchdog, Pompeo MORE, President TrumpDonald John TrumpMinneapolis erupts for third night, as protests spread, Trump vows retaliation Stocks open mixed ahead of Trump briefing on China The island that can save America MORE’s personal attorney.

The records include a March 27 email in which Trump's former personal assistant helped connect Giuliani with Pompeo after Giuliani's team said it got "nowhere through regular channels." The documents appear to show a pair of phone calls between the two about a month before Marie YovanovitchMarie YovanovitchJim Jordan requests documents from Pompeo regarding Hunter Biden, Burisma  Trump taps new ambassador to Ukraine America's diplomats deserve our respect MORE, the former ambassador to Ukraine and an anti-corruption expert, was suddenly recalled by the Trump administration.

The documents, which do not reveal exactly what Pompeo and Giuliani discussed, were released as part of a Freedom of Information Act request by American Oversight, a nonprofit ethics watchdog organization. The group said the documents show a “clear paper trail” between Pompeo and Giuliani before the ambassador to Ukraine was abruptly dismissed from her post in May.

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“It reveals 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,” the group said in a statement. “This is just the first round of disclosures. The evidence is only going to get worse for the administration as its stonewall strategy collapses in the face of court orders.”

"This lawsuit is just one of several American Oversight is pursuing to bring transparency to the Ukraine investigation," the group continued. "The public should expect more disclosures, over the administration’s strong objection, for the foreseeable future."

A judge ordered the State Department last month to cooperate with American Oversight's document request, which was filed in early October. The agency ultimately said on Oct. 31 that it would turn over the cache of records.

The document dump supports the testimony from several witnesses in the House impeachment investigation who said Pompeo and Giuliani spoke as Trump’s personal lawyer sought to get Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden campaign cancels fundraiser with Mueller prosecutor Twitter joins Democrats to boost mail-in voting — here's why The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - George Floyd's death sparks protests, National Guard activation MORE, one of Trump’s chief political rivals.

“Was there a ‘quid pro quo?’ The answer is yes,” U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon SondlandGordon SondlandTop Democrat slams Trump's new EU envoy: Not 'a political donor's part-time job' Trump names new EU envoy, filling post left vacant by impeachment witness Sondland Ocasio-Cortez: Republicans are prioritizing big chains in coronavirus relief  MORE testified this week regarding questions surrounding whether a White House meeting and call were tied to Ukraine's announcement of investigations desired by Trump.

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“Everyone was in the loop. It was no secret," Sondland added.

Pompeo has publicly stayed quiet about the Ukraine ordeal and has declined to comment on Yovanovitch, drawing criticism that he is not protecting State Department staffers. He said earlier this month, "I always defend State Department employees. This is the greatest diplomatic corps in the history of the world."

Giuliani has drawn heightened scrutiny as part of the House impeachment inquiry, emerging as a focal figure for his shadow campaign to remove Yovanovitch. The Trump lawyer believed the ambassador's anti-corruption stance would be an obstacle to his efforts to convince Kyiv to investigate Biden on unfounded corruption allegations.

The White House has largely stonewalled the House’s request for testimony and documents, a stance American Oversight said was illegal based on its ability to obtain the State Department documents. 

“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,” it said.

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Pompeo has mulled launching a Senate bid in his home state of Kansas, and Trump on Friday said the secretary of State has indicated that he would like to remain in his Cabinet. Still, the president praised Pompeo as "an incredible guy" and opened the door to him potentially seeking the Senate seat. 

"Mike would win easily in Kansas," Trump said on Fox News. "He came to me and said, 'Look, I'd rather stay where I am,' but he loves Kansas. He loves the people of Kansas. If he thought there was a chance of losing that seat, I think he would do that and he would win in a landslide."

Updated: 9:45 a.m.