Oct 23, 2019

3 senators are trying to use FOIA to get Trump-Ukraine info

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Democratic Sens. Kamala Harris (Calif.), Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.) and Richard Blumenthal (Conn.) requested documents Wednesday from the Justice Department regarding Ukraine and President Trump's impeachment inquiry under the Freedom of Information Act.

"These factual revelations raise serious concerns about the Justice Department's involvement in politically-motivated investigations, at the behest of the White House and Rudy Giuliani. Therefore, we submit a request for records seeking information about the White House's attempts to interfere with federal law enforcement to pursue politically beneficial outcomes."

Why it matters: The request comes as the House is trying to gain access to documents from the Trump administration — often through subpoenas that the White House can simply ignore.

  • Yes, but: Document requests filed under FOIA can take months or even years to fulfill, so it's unlikely the senators will get the documents they've requested anytime soon.

The big picture: Harris has been slowly slipping in the polls for the 2020 presidential race, but she previously gained national attention for her intense questioning of Trump officials and nominees, including Attorney General Bill Barr and Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

  • While a trial in the Senate after a potential Trump impeachment could help to bolster her national profile once again, it would pull her away from the trail for weeks during a critical time in the campaign.

Read the FOIA request letter:

Go deeper: Kamala Harris on the issues, in under 500 words

Go deeper

Exclusive: Three Democratic senators use another FOIA request to get Trump-Ukraine info

Sen. Kamala Harris speaks to voters in Iowa. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Democratic Sens. Kamala Harris, Richard Blumenthal and Sheldon Whitehouse requested documents and communications from the Justice Department on Nov. 8 related to President Trump's reported call for Attorney General Bill Barr to hold a press conference exonerating the president of any wrongdoing on the July 25 Ukraine call, according to a letter first given to Axios.

“These reports raise serious concerns about the president’s perception of the Justice Department as a partisan political instrument and his willingness to use the power of federal law enforcement in pursuit of his own objectives."
— Sens. Kamala Harris, Richard Blumenthal and Sheldon Whitehouse in a Nov. 8 letter
Go deeperArrowNov 9, 2019

Judge orders State Department to turn over Ukraine records in 30 days

Photo: Lastair Pike/AFP/Getty Image

A federal judge on Wednesday gave the State Department 30 days to start producing documents related to the administration's relationship with Ukraine, including communications between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the president's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, AP reports

Why it matters: The records, which were sought via a Freedom of Information Act request by ethics watchdog American Oversight, could shed more light on the White House's alleged efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate President Trump's political rivals, which are now at the center of an impeachment inquiry.

Go deeper: Diplomat testifies Trump tied Ukraine aid to Biden, DNC investigations

Keep ReadingArrowOct 23, 2019

Report: Barr declined Trump's request for news conference on Ukraine call

Trump and Barr in the Rose Garden in July 2019. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Attorney General Bill Barr declined President Trump's request to declare via a news conference that the president "had broken no laws" during his July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, the Washington Post and ABC News reported Wednesday. Trump denied the report in a late-night tweet.

The big picture: The president's reported request, made "sometime around Sept. 25," coincides with the day the administration's released its memorandum of the Trump-Ukraine call, which helped launch an impeachment inquiry into the president.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Nov 7, 2019