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Energy Department agrees to release Ukraine-related documents

The Department of Energy will begin producing documents related to Ukraine by January 28 following an agreement with watchdog group American Oversight, according to a joint filing in a Washington, DC, federal court Monday.

The agreement comes after American Oversight sued the Energy Department for the documents in October under the Freedom of Information Act. The parties agreed that two additional releases of records will occur on February 4 and March 16.

The court filing says the first set of documents will focus on communications of then-Secretary Rick Perry as well as chief of staff Brian McCormack among other items. The next set will include communications with President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

Perry and Giuliani were key players in the congressional impeachment inquiry into Trump’s Ukraine conduct that led to the House charging Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Democrats say Trump abused his office by directing a pressure campaign for Ukraine to announce an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden in exchange for $400 million in US security aid and a White House meeting. Trump, Democrats say, then stonewalled congressional investigators to coverup the misconduct.

Multiple US officials testified before Congress that Giuliani was a conduit for messages between the President and officials in Kiev, and that he was at the helm of a problematic circumvention of typical national security processes.

Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney confirmed in a press conference in October that Trump had instructed Perry, at a May 23 meeting in the Oval Office, to work through Giuliani on Ukraine-related issues.

The Department of Energy did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment. The agency has thus far refused to cooperate with a congressional subpoena for Ukraine-related documents requested as part of the impeachment inquiry.

In October, Assistant Secretary of Energy Melissa Burnison told the three committees involved in the inquiry that the Energy Department is “unable to comply with your request for documents and communications at this time.”

In a letter, Burnison argues about the validity of the inquiry and contends the request is for confidential communications “that are potentially protected by executive privilege and would require careful review.”

Burnison concluded by saying the department “remains committed to working with Congress.”

CNN