Ashley Schapitl (202)224-4515
Wyden Again Requests State Department Documents on Trump-Era Ukraine Activities, Rudy Giuliani Efforts to Manufacture Dirt on Vice President Biden
Washington, D.C. – For the third time, Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., requested documents from the State Department on the full scope of Trump-era Ukraine activities, including the firing of former Ukrainian Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin and whether the department is helping Rudy Giuliani manufacture dirt on Vice President Joe Biden by providing information about transcripts of communications with foreign leaders.
Wyden’s request, which follows his May 6, 2020 and original February 11, 2020 requests, is designed to ensure a complete and accurate record of the State Department’s activities.
The State Department has voluntarily provided more than 9,000 pages of documents in response to requests from Chairman Grassley and Chairman Johnson, while refusing to provide any documents Wyden has requested.
“To date, the State Department has produced to the Committee over 9,000 pages of documents requested by Chairman Grassley on the same matter. At the end of July, the State Department will begin producing witnesses for transcribed interviews on this matter. To further ignore my requests is at best baseless, and at worst a partisan political act,” Wyden wrote.
Wyden continued, “It is deeply troubling that the State Department believes that it is appropriate to provide information related to Ukraine to the President’s personal attorney, but that it is not appropriate to provide information related to Ukraine to a ranking member of a Senate Committee engaged in an investigation of Ukraine. Consequently, it is critical that I understand the substance and propriety of these communications.”
Text of the letter follows:
Dear Secretary Pompeo:
On February 11, 2020, I wrote to you requesting information related to the State Department’s activities in Ukraine. After receiving no response from the Department, I wrote again on May 6, 2020, repeating my request for documents.
On June 4, 2020, four months after my initial request, I received a response from Mary Elizabeth Taylor, former Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs, denying my request. Ms. Taylor justified the Department’s response by saying it “must defer to the internal discussion and decisions of the Committee.” As the ranking Democratic member of the Finance Committee, I am unaware of any internal discussion or decisions of the Committee which would in any way restrict the ability of the Department to respond to my request.
Regardless, there is no need to “defer to the internal discussion” of the Committee as the Chairman of this Committee -- Chairman Grassley -- has been very vocal and public on the matter. In a June 7, 2017 letter to President Trump, Chairman Grassley wrote the following:
Every member of Congress is a Constitutional officer, duly elected to represent and cast votes in the interests of their constituents. This applies obviously regardless of whether they are in the majority or the minority at the moment and regardless of whether they are in a leadership position on a particular committee. Thus, all members need accurate information from the Executive Branch in order to carry out their Constitutional function to make informed decisions on all sorts of legislative issues covering a vast array of complex matters across our massive federal government.
Chairman Grassley went on to assert that the notion that only committee chairmen were constitutionally authorized was “nonsense.” As the ranking member of Chairman Grassley’s committee, I agree.
As Chairman Grassley noted, I need accurate information from the Executive Branch to carry out my constitutional duties. I am requesting information from the State Department in furtherance of my constitutionally recognized oversight responsibilities, not as an end-run around the Chairman’s request. In fact, my letter specifically differentiated my request from that of my Republican counterpart, by noting “It is wholly inappropriate for the State Department to dedicate its limited resources to voluntarily complying with Republican requests without making a good faith effort to respond to Democratic requests.” The fact that the Finance Committee Chairman is also conducting an investigation of the State Department’s activity in Ukraine merely highlights the urgency of this request, and the fact that I am requesting information covered, in part, by Chairman Grassley’s request should underscore the absurdity of the State Department’s refusal to respond. To date, the State Department has produced to the Committee over 9,000 pages of documents requested by Chairman Grassley on the same matter. At the end of July, the State Department will begin producing witnesses for transcribed interviews on this matter. To further ignore my requests is at best baseless, and at worst a partisan political act.
I will note as well, that both of my letters requested all State Department records related to Rudy Giuliani, President Trump’s personal attorney. In a June 30, 2020 Washington Post story, Mr. Giuliani described the efforts of a State Department employee to assist him in finding information on President Trump’s chief political opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden. According to Giuliani, “A guy at the State Department who gave us a lot of information” consulted the archive of conversations between American leaders and their counterparts overseas to identify three conversations in February 2016 during which Biden mentioned the prosecutor general’s name in conversations with Poroshenko. “He didn’t show it to us but told us they existed,” Giuliani said of the State Department official. “He said, ‘I guarantee there are three conversations on February 15, 17 … one of them is quite lengthy. It’s between Biden and Poroshenko. There are transcripts of them, but they are classified.’”
It is deeply troubling that the State Department believes that it is appropriate to provide information related to Ukraine to the President’s personal attorney, but that it is not appropriate to provide information related to Ukraine to a ranking member of a Senate Committee engaged in an investigation of Ukraine. Consequently, it is critical that I understand the substance and propriety of these communications.
Please provide the following information including, but not limited to any records generated after January 20, 2017:
1. All State Department records related to Rudy Giuliani, Lev Parnas, Igor Fruman, Dmitry Firtash, Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, Aleksander Kwasniewski, Cofer Black, Andrii Telizhenko, Serhiy Leshchenko, Mykola Zlochevsky, Oleksandr Onyshchenko, Kostiantyn Kulyk, Viktor Shokin, and Yuriy Lutsenko.
2. When the Ukrainian Parliament voted overwhelmingly to remove Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin, the decision was welcomed by the international community, and the United States’ policy toward Shokin was “widely understood internationally to be the right policy.” Furthermore, this policy had bipartisan support in Congress. Please provide any records related to support by Congress and the international community for the removal of Shokin, including, but not limited to, any such documents related to the Congressional Ukraine Caucus, European Union, International Monetary Fund, or the World Bank.
In addition to these requests, please provide any records responsive to the following requests:
3. From January 21, 2017 to present: all records generated by department officials who accessed any materials related to conversations with foreign officials by former Vice President Joe Biden and former Secretary John Kerry. This request includes, but is not limited to, any records reflecting the activity of individuals accessing any transcripts, summaries, or recordings of any calls between Vice President Biden, Secretary Kerry, and Ukrainian President Poroshenko.
4. From January 21, 2017 to present: all State Department records related to Karen Tramontano, Burisma Holdings, Blue Star Strategies, Hunter Biden, Devon Archer, Christopher Heinz, Rosemont Seneca Partners, Rosemont Seneca Bohai LLC, and Rosemont Capital.
Finally, please provide the following:
5. All State Department records, including but not limited to calendar entries, phone records, and visitor logs, related to Rudy Giuliani, President Trump’s personal attorney, and any State Department employee including but not limited to identification of archive of conversations between American leaders, such as Vice President Biden, and their counterparts.
Please begin production of these materials no later than July 20, 2020. If you have any questions, please contact Senate Finance Committee minority staff.
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