By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) – A federal judge in the nation's capital ordered the State Department on Wednesday to begin handing over Ukraine-related documents, including records pertaining to the department's dealings with U.S. President Donald Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani.
District Court Judge Christopher Cooper gave the department and the plaintiff, NGO American Oversight, 30 days to narrow the scope of the request and start producing the documents that are not classified, according to multiple reports.
American Oversight is a non-profit ethics watchdog that sought documents pertaining to Giuliani's communications with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as well as the dismissal of Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, who served as Washington’s envoy to the east European nation until she was recalled in May.
“Despite the ongoing obstruction of Congress, the Trump administration will now have to start releasing records concerning its dealings with Ukraine,” Austin Evers, the watchdog's executive director, said in a statement.
"The court recognized the importance of these documents and the need for the State Department to rapidly release them, and American Oversight will continue fighting to make sure the truth comes out,” he added.
American Oversight filed a suit against the State Department earlier this month seeking a preliminary injunction to have the administration quickly produce the documents.
Under Trump's direction, his administration has stonewalled the House of Representatives' ongoing impeachment investigation, refusing to comply with congressional requests for information.
The chairs of three congressional committees spearheading the probe sent a letter to the State Department on Wednesday demanding the release of documents they said are "highly relevant" to their investigation.
"These documents include information central to the inquiry’s core area of investigation: the President’s efforts to press Ukraine to initiate investigations that would benefit his personal and political interests, and not the national interest," Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel and Acting Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney wrote.
Among the requested documents are written readouts of meetings, diplomatic cables and text messages.
American Oversight also sought emails pertaining to Trump's July 25, 2019 telephone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky sent before and after the conversation that has been central to the impeachment proceedings.
During the conversation, Trump repeatedly pressed Zelensky to probe former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, over so far unsubstantiated claims of corruption.