U.S. judge orders State Department to release more Ukraine records

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks before awarding the Medal of Honor to U.S. Army Master Sgt. Matthew Williams in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., October 30, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo

(Reuters) – A U.S. federal judge on Friday ordered the State Department to make public certain “readouts or summaries” of the July 25 call between President Donald Trump and his Ukrainian counterpart at the center of a congressional impeachment investigation.

The order by U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper in Washington gave the State Department until Nov. 22 to hand the documents over to American Oversight, a watchdog group that sued for access to them based on a public records law.

Last month, Cooper ordered the State Department to confer with American Oversight and negotiate the release of other categories of Ukraine-related documents, including senior officials’ correspondence with Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

American Oversight’s lawsuit has assisted congressional investigators, who have also sought documents and testimony from the State Department but been rebuffed.

In an Oct. 30 court filing, the State Department objected to producing readouts and summaries of the July 25 phone call that are currently in the possession of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and a close aide, saying “such records have a high likelihood of being classified and/or privileged.”

The State Department said those summaries and readouts “are likely to contain additional information beyond a transcription of the call itself.”

Cooper said in Friday’s order that American Oversight’s request was lawful and did not place a heavy burden on the department, however.

Reporting by Jan Wolfe; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall

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