Newly released documents show Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani was in contact with secretary of state Mike Pompeo in the months before the US ambassador to Ukraine was abruptly recalled.
The State Department released the documents to the group American Oversight in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. They show Mr Pompeo talked with Mr Giuliani on March 26 and 29.
Austin Evers, executive director of American Oversight, said the documents reveal “a clear paper trail from Rudy Giuliani to the Oval Office to Secretary Pompeo to facilitate Giuliani’s smear campaign against a US ambassador”.
Last week, former ambassador Marie Yovanovitch told congressional impeachment investigators she felt “kneecapped” by a “smear campaign” Mr Giuliani led against her. She was withdrawn from her post in Ukraine in May.
The documents also include a report, that appears with Trump hotel stationery, that appears to summarise a January 23 interview with Ukraine’s former prosecutor general, Victor Shokin.
The summary says Mr Giuliani and two business associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, were present.
Mr Parnas and Mr Fruman were arrested last month on a four-count indictment that includes charges of conspiracy, making false statements to the Federal Election Commission and falsification of records.
The men had key roles in Mr Giuliani’s efforts to launch a Ukrainian corruption investigation against Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
In the document, Mr Shokin claims he was removed from his position under pressure from Mr Biden.
A second memo appears to be a summary of an interview with Yuri Lutsenko, also a former prosecutor general of Ukraine, conducted in the presence of Mr Giuliani, Mr Parnas and Mr Fruman.
Mr Lutsenko is quoted raising questions about compensation that Hunter Biden received from Ukrainian oil company Burisma.