An ethics oversight group called American Oversight recently filed a Freedom-of-Information-Act request with the State Department for information related to the firing of Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch from her post in Ukraine. The underlying issue is of great importance, especially now: the evidence that's emerged from the impeachment inquiry makes clear that Yovanovitch was ousted in the wake of a smear campaign launched by Rudy Giuliani and far-right media.
The ambassador stood in the way of a political scheme, which led Team Trump to make her a target.
Not surprisingly, the Trump administration balked at cooperating with the FOIA request, which led to a lawsuit that the State Department lost. Late Friday night, the cabinet agency complied with a court order, at which point it became clear why the administration was reluctant to disclose the relevant materials. The New York Times reported: that the documents "further implicate" Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
The emails indicate that Mr. Pompeo spoke at least twice by telephone with Mr. Giuliani in March as Mr. Giuliani was urging Ukraine to investigate Mr. Trump's rivals, and trying to oust a respected American ambassador to Ukraine, Marie L. Yovanovitch, who had been promoting anticorruption efforts in the country. Mr. Pompeo ordered Ms. Yovanovitch's removal the next month. One call between Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Pompeo was arranged with guidance from Mr. Trump's personal assistant, the documents suggest.The documents also show that the State Department sent members of Congress a deliberately misleading reply about Ms. Yovanovitch's departure after they asked about pressure on her.
The information released Friday "reveals a clear paper trail from Rudy Giuliani to the Oval Office to Secretary Pompeo to facilitate Giuliani's smear campaign against a U.S. ambassador," Austin Evers, executive director of American Oversight, said in a statement.
In recent weeks, Mike Pompeo, who's been tied to the Ukraine scandal in a variety of ways, has faced criticism for failing to properly defend Yovanovitch. These new revelations raise the prospect of something even worse: a hyper-partisan secretary of State facing accusations of working with Giuliani to help advance a smear campaign against one of his own ambassadors.
What's more, the release of the documents comes on the heels of Ambassador Gordon Sondland's testimony in which he told lawmakers, "Everyone was in the loop." The materials from the State Department appear to further cement Pompeo's status as part of "everyone."
Those eager to dig in on all of the materials released by the State Department can check out the documents online here.