WaPo (Oct 23 2019)
U.S. judge says he will order State Dept. to begin releasing Ukraine records in 30 days
A federal judge said Wednesday that he will order the State Department to begin releasing Ukraine-related documents in 30 days, potentially making public sensitive records and communications at the heart of an ongoing House impeachment inquiry into President Trump.
The decision, by U.S. District Judge Christopher R. “Casey” Cooper of Washington, D.C., came in a public records lawsuit filed Oct. 1 by a government watchdog group, American Oversight.
The group in May asked the State Department for records related to alleged efforts by Trump and his administration to pressure Ukraine to investigate a political opponent, former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
Using the Freedom of Information Act, the group sought communications, such as those between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani. It also sought records and communications since March 2018 related to the recall of U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.
Cooper said during an emergency hearing Wednesday that he would order the State Department to begin producing records in 30 days, American Oversight said. The 30-day deadline falls amid a House impeachment inquiry, which Democratic leaders have signaled they wish to conclude by year’s end.
“Despite the ongoing obstruction of Congress, the Trump administration will now have to start releasing records concerning its dealings with Ukraine,” Austin Evers, the executive director of American Oversight, said in a statement.
Cooper cited the critical importance of the documents and ordered the State Department to fast-track the release by working with American Oversight to search and process requested, nonexempt records.