White House

Pompeo: State Dept. will ‘comply’ with law on release of Giuliani communications

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo suggested on Thursday that the Trump administration plans to comply with a court order to release Ukraine-related documents, including communications between State Department officials and President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, within 30 days.

At a U.S. District of Columbia District Court hearing on Wednesday, Justice Department lawyers did not argue with the judge’s order and said they would review whether any of the communications should be redacted or withheld from the public because they are privileged or classified.

The communications are evidentiary material in an ongoing House impeachment inquiry into the president.

“I haven’t seen the ruling,” Pompeo said in an interview with The Wichita Eagle and The Kansas City Star. “But I can assure the American people that their State Department always complies with everything we’re required to do under the law. There’s no reason to think we would do any different there.”

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The ruling emerged from a case brought by American Oversight, an ethics watchdog that sought the documents through the Freedom of Information Act.

The executive director of that group, Austin Evers, who was in the courtroom for the decision on Wednesday, told McClatchy that he expected the State Department to begin working with his team immediately on the release of the documents.

“The court made it very clear that the documents we asked for are of very high public value and could be released very quickly,” Evers said.

Pompeo was in Wichita on Thursday with Ivanka Trump, White House advisor and daughter of the president, to highlight workforce development needs in events at WSU Tech and Textron Aviation.

In the interview, the secretary expressed frustration with questions surrounding the impeachment inquiry, which is examining whether Trump withheld $391 million in foreign assistance to the newly elected government in Ukraine this summer in order to compel them to investigate the family of former Vice President Joe Biden, one of his chief political rivals.

“This inquiry will proceed,” Pompeo said. “Congress will perform its oversight function. The State Department will continue to do all the things that were required to do under the law and the Constitution.”

He said that recent subpoenas and depositions of top State Department officials had not deterred him from his focus on foreign policy matters – nor had it changed his calculus on whether to launch a bid for Senate in Kansas next year to replace retiring Sen. Pat Roberts.

But he did lament that his former colleagues in Congress were, in his words, overstepping their oversight authorities.

“I was a member of Congress – I think it’s absolutely important that they perform their function in a way that is professional. I wish that they were doing that. Unfortunately, today, they are not,” Pompeo said.

Michael Wilner reported from Washington.

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Jonathan Shorman covers Kansas politics and the Legislature for The Wichita Eagle and The Kansas City Star. He’s been covering politics for six years, first in Missouri and now in Kansas. He holds a journalism degree from the University of Kansas.
Michael Wilner joined McClatchy as its White House correspondent in 2019. He previously served as Washington bureau chief for The Jerusalem Post, where he led coverage of the Iran nuclear talks, the Syrian refugee crisis and the 2016 US presidential campaign. Wilner holds degrees from Claremont McKenna College and Columbia University and is a native of New York City.