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State Dept. watchdog highlights suspect documents in Ukraine hearing

In this image, Steve stands in a suit and tie in a hallway on the Hill
Steve Linick. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

State Department Inspector General Steve Linick provided "assorted news clippings and conspiratorial memos" on alleged Democratic wrongdoing in Ukraine that "he did not assign credibility to" on Wednesday in a private committee hearing that he requested, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: Interview notes involving Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and "Ukrainian officials about the Bidens" appeared to be among the materials, which were addressed to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, per NYT.

  • Giuliani was subpoenaed this week by the House Intelligence Committee to produce documents by Oct. 15 related to his and President Trump's alleged efforts to push Ukraine's government to investigate Joe Biden.
  • Giuliani has yet to state if he would cooperate with the subpoena, but he said he would comply with the impeachment inquiry if Trump tells him to.

The big picture: The whistleblower complaint — which cites a phone call between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Trump — alleges that the president used "the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 election" and claims that Giuliani and Attorney General Bill Barr appeared to be involved in the effort as well.

What they're saying:

“The briefing and documents raise troubling questions about apparent efforts inside and outside the Trump Administration to target specific officials, including former Vice President Joe Biden's son and then-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Masha Yovanovitch, who was abruptly removed as Ambassador in May after a sustained campaign against her by the President’s agent, Rudy Giuliani.
The documents provided by the Inspector General included a package of disinformation, debunked conspiracy theories, and baseless allegations in an envelope marked 'White House' and containing folders labeled 'Trump Hotel.' These documents also reinforce concern that the President and his allies sought to use the machinery of the State Department to further the President’s personal political interests."
— Joint statement from the chairs of the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, and Oversight and Reform committees

Background: Linick said the materials were delivered to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo "earlier this year from someone purporting to be at the White House," per the Times, and "a legal adviser at the department" passed it on to Linick's office.

  • Linick "doubted" the origin of the materials, but "thought lawmakers should have it in light of their investigative work," NYT reports.

Go deeper: Fact check: What Joe and Hunter Biden actually did in Ukraine