Share

Press Releases

Three House Committees Launch Wide-Ranging Investigation into Trump-Giuliani Ukraine Scheme

Engel, Schiff, and Cummings Demand Records about Efforts to Pressure Ukraine’s Government to Assist Trump’s Reelection Campaign

Washington, September 9, 2019

Washington, DC—Today, three House Committees launched a wide-ranging investigation into reported efforts by President Trump, the President’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, and possibly others to pressure the government of Ukraine to assist the President’s reelection campaign.

In letters to the White House and the State Department, Chairmen Eliot L. Engel of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Adam B. Schiff of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and Elijah E. Cummings of the Committee on Oversight and Reform demanded records relating to President Trump’s and Mr. Giuliani’s attempts to manipulate the Ukrainian justice system to benefit the President’s re-election campaign and target a possible political opponent. These initial requests represent a first step in a broad investigation into this matter.

“A growing public record indicates that, for nearly two years, the President and his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, appear to have acted outside legitimate law enforcement and diplomatic channels to coerce the Ukrainian government into pursuing two politically-motivated investigations under the guise of anti-corruption activity,” wrote the Chairmen. “As the 2020 election draws closer, President Trump and his personal attorney appear to have increased pressure on the Ukrainian government and its justice system in service of President Trump’s reelection campaign, and the White House and the State Department may be abetting this scheme.”

It was also recently reported that the Trump Administration is threatening to withhold security assistance to Ukraine in defiance of explicit congressional direction. The Committees will investigate whether this is part of President Trump’s effort to coerce the Ukrainian government into pursuing politically-motivated investigations, including of former Vice President Joe Biden and his family—all in service of President Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign.

The Trump Administration’s decision to withhold vital security assistance to Ukraine is only the latest in a series of actions in which President Trump appears to undermine U.S. foreign policy to placate Russia and place his personal interests above the national interest.

Full text of the letters follows and can be found here.

 

Mr. Pat Cipollone
Counsel to the President
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave, N.W.
Washington, D.C.  20002

Dear Mr. Cipollone:

The Committees on Foreign Affairs, Intelligence, and Oversight and Reform jointly request documents related to reported efforts by President Trump and his associates to improperly pressure the Ukrainian government to assist the President’s bid for reelection.

A growing public record indicates that, for nearly two years, the President and his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, appear to have acted outside legitimate law enforcement and diplomatic channels to coerce the Ukrainian government into pursuing two politically-motivated investigations under the guise of anti-corruption activity.  The first is a prosecution of Ukrainians who provided key evidence against Mr. Trump’s convicted campaign manager Paul Manafort.  That investigation aims to undercut the Mueller Report’s overwhelming evidence that Russia interfered in the 2016 election to support Trump’s campaign.  The other case targets the son of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, who is challenging Mr. Trump for the presidency in 2020.

As the 2020 election draws closer, President Trump and his personal attorney appear to have increased pressure on the Ukrainian government and its justice system in service of President Trump’s reelection campaign, and the White House and the State Department may be abetting this scheme.  

According to the Ukrainian government, in a July 25, 2019 call with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President Trump apparently focused on these investigations, telling President Zelenskyy that he is “convinced the new Ukrainian government will be able to quickly improve [the] image of Ukraine, [and] complete [the] investigation of corruption cases, which inhibited the interaction between Ukraine and the USA.”   The next day, Ambassador Kurt Volker, U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine, was dispatched to meet with President Zelenskyy.   Days later, the President’s personal attorney met Andriy Yermak, an aide to President Zelenskyy, in Spain, where the President’s personal attorney, who has no official administration or diplomatic position, reportedly suggested a “possible heads of state meeting” between Presidents Trump and Zelenskyy and tweeted an accusation about former Vice President Biden’s son.  The State Department subsequently acknowledged that Ambassador Volker used his office to facilitate the meeting between the two.  Although the State Department has insisted that President Trump’s attorney is “a private citizen” who “does not speak on behalf of the U.S. Government,” Mr. Yermak publicly stated that “it was not clear to him whether Mr. Giuliani was representing Mr. Trump in their talks.”  

President Trump has also threatened to withhold more than $250 million in security assistance that Congress has appropriated, the Pentagon supports, and Ukraine desperately needs.  Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity are under assault from Russia and its proxies in illegally-occupied Ukrainian territory. If the President is trying to pressure Ukraine into choosing between defending itself from Russian aggression without U.S. assistance or leveraging its judicial system to serve the ends of the Trump campaign, this would represent a staggering abuse of power, a boon to Moscow, and a betrayal of the public trust.  That the State Department has apparently acted as a broker between President Trump’s personal attorney and Ukrainian officials raises serious concerns that the Department is complicit in a corrupt scheme that undercuts U.S. foreign policy and national security interests in favor of the President’s personal agenda. 

Congress has a constitutionally-mandated obligation to conduct oversight, protect the sanctity of our elections, and ensure that the nation’s diplomatic resources and foreign assistance are being deployed for the benefit of the United States, not the personal interests of the President.  In order to fulfill this obligation and determine what legislative reforms may be required, we request that the White House preserve all documents, communications, and other data (“records”), regardless of format, that may be required for the Committees’ oversight and investigative duties relating to this subject.  The term “records” is broad and includes both paper and electronic records.   Specifically, the White House should:

1. identify and notify all current and former employees and contractors, subcontractors, consultants, and Special Government Employees who may have access to such records that they are to be preserved;

2. identify, record, and preserve any records which have been deleted or marked for deletion but are still recoverable; and

3. if it is the routine practice of any employee or contractor to destroy or otherwise alter such records, either halt such practices or arrange for the preservation of complete and accurate duplicates or copies of such records, suitable for production, if requested.

In addition, we request that your office produce to the Committees the following, no later than Monday, September 16:

1. Any and all records generated or received by any White House staff from January 20, 2017 to the present related to or referring in any way to the potential or suggested investigations/legal cases referred to in this letter.  This includes, but is not limited to, correspondence regarding or referring to Paul Manafort, Serhiy Leshchenko, the “Black Ledger,” Hunter Biden, Burisma Holdings, former Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko, or Presidential Aide Andriy Yermak in the context of these potential or suggested investigations/legal cases.

2. The transcript of President Trump’s July 25, 2019 call with Ukrainian President Zelenskyy (the “July 25 Call”).

3. Any and all records generated or received by any White House staff in connection with, or that refer or relate in any way to the July 25 Call. 

4. A full list of all White House staff who participated in, assisted in preparation for, or received a readout of the July 25 Call. 

5. Any and all records generated or received by White House staff with or referring to President Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani.  

6. Any and all records generated or received by any White House staff in connection with, or that refer or relate in any way to the actual or potential suspension of security assistance to Ukraine. 

The Committees are prepared to work with your office to facilitate the production of these documents.   

Sincerely,

ELIOT L. ENGEL                                                  

Chairman
House Foreign Affairs Committee                           

ADAM SCHIFF

Chairman
House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence

ELIJAH E. CUMMINGS                                                                

Chairman
House Committee on Oversight and Reform 
                                       

***

The Honorable Mike Pompeo
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Mr. Secretary:

The Committees on Foreign Affairs, Intelligence, and Oversight and Reform jointly request documents related to reported efforts by President Trump and his associates to improperly pressure the Ukrainian government to assist the President’s bid for reelection.

A growing public record indicates that, for nearly two years, the President and his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, appear to have acted outside legitimate law enforcement and diplomatic channels to coerce the Ukrainian government into pursuing two politically-motivated investigations under the guise of anti-corruption activity.  The first is a prosecution of Ukrainians who provided key evidence against Mr. Trump’s convicted campaign manager Paul Manafort.  That investigation aims to undercut the Mueller Report’s overwhelming evidence that Russia interfered in the 2016 election to support Trump’s campaign.  The other case targets the son of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, who is challenging Mr. Trump for the presidency in 2020.

As the 2020 election draws closer, President Trump and his personal attorney appear to have increased pressure on the Ukrainian government and its justice system in service of President Trump’s reelection campaign, and the White House and the State Department may be abetting this scheme.  

According to the Ukrainian government, in a July 25, 2019 call with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President Trump apparently focused on these investigations, telling President Zelenskyy that he is “convinced the new Ukrainian government will be able to quickly improve [the] image of Ukraine, [and] complete [the] investigation of corruption cases, which inhibited the interaction between Ukraine and the USA.” The next day, Ambassador Kurt Volker, U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine, was dispatched to meet with President Zelenskyy. Days later, the President’s personal attorney met Andriy Yermak, an aide to President Zelenskyy, in Spain, where the President’s personal attorney, who has no official administration or diplomatic position, reportedly suggested a “possible heads of state meeting” between Presidents Trump and Zelenskyy  and tweeted an accusation about former Vice President Biden’s son.  The State Department subsequently acknowledged that Ambassador Volker used his office to facilitate the meeting between the two.  Although the State Department has insisted that President Trump’s attorney is “a private citizen” who “does not speak on behalf of the U.S. Government,” Mr. Yermak publicly stated that “it was not clear to him whether Mr. Giuliani was representing Mr. Trump in their talks.” 

President Trump has also threatened to withhold more than $250 million in security assistance that Congress has appropriated, the Pentagon supports, and Ukraine desperately needs.  Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity are under assault from Russia and its proxies in illegally-occupied Ukrainian territory. If the President is trying to pressure Ukraine into choosing between defending itself from Russian aggression without U.S. assistance or leveraging its judicial system to serve the ends of the Trump campaign, this would represent a staggering abuse of power, a boon to Moscow, and a betrayal of the public trust.  That the State Department has apparently acted as a broker between President Trump’s personal attorney and Ukrainian officials raises serious concerns that the Department is complicit in a corrupt scheme that undercuts U.S. foreign policy and national security interests in favor of the President’s personal agenda. 

Congress has a constitutionally-mandated obligation to conduct oversight, protect the sanctity of our elections, and ensure that the nation’s diplomatic resources and foreign assistance are being deployed for the benefit of the United States, not the personal interests of the President.  In order to fulfill this obligation and determine what legislative reform may be required, we request that the White House preserve all documents, communications, and other data (“records”), regardless of format, that may be required for the Committees’ oversight and investigative duties relating to this subject.  The term “records” is broad and includes both paper and electronic records. 

Specifically, the State Department should:

1. identify and notify all current and former employees and contractors, subcontractors, consultants, and Special Government Employees who may have access to such records that they are to be preserved;

2. identify, record, and preserve any records which have been deleted or marked for deletion but are still recoverable; and

3. if it is the routine practice of any employee or contractor to destroy or otherwise alter such records, either halt such practices or arrange for the preservation of complete and accurate duplicates or copies of such records, suitable for production, if requested.

In addition, we request that the Department produce to the Committees the following,  no later than Monday, September 16:

1. Any and all correspondence sent to or received by the State Department from January 20, 2017 to the present related to or referring in any way to the potential or suggested investigations/legal cases referred to in this letter.  This includes, but is not limited to, correspondence regarding or referring to Paul Manafort, Serhiy Leshchenko, the “Black Ledger,” Hunter Biden, Burisma Holdings, former Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko, or Presidential Aide Andriy Yermak in the context of these potential or suggested investigations/legal cases.

2. Any copies in the State Department’s, custody, or control of the transcript of President Trump’s July 25, 2019 call with Ukrainian President Zelenskyy (the “July 25 Call”).

3. Any and all records generated or received by the State Department in connection with, or that refer or relate in any way to the July 25 Call. 

4. A full list of any Department officials who participated in, assisted in preparation for, or received a readout of the July 25 Call. 

5. Any and all records generated or received by Department officials with or referring to President Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani. 

6. Any and all records generated or received by any State Department staff in connection with, or that refer or relate in any way to the actual or potential suspension of security assistance to Ukraine. 

Relevant custodians for responsive records include, but are not limited to:

1. the Office of the Secretary, including the Policy Planning Staff, the Counselor;

2. the Office of the Deputy Secretary;

3. the Office of the Undersecretary for Political Affairs;

4. Ambassador Kurt Volker and the office of the Special Representative for Ukraine;

5. The Bureau of European Affairs; and

6. U.S. Embassy Kyiv.

The Committees are prepared to work with the Department to facilitate the production of these documents. 

Sincerely,

ELIOT L. ENGEL                                                  

Chairman                                                           
House Foreign Affairs Committee                           

ADAM SCHIFF

Chairman
House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence

ELIJAH E. CUMMINGS                                                                

Chairman
House Committee on Oversight and Reform