Harris Seeks Ukraine Info Via Records 10/23 06:14
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- Presidential hopeful Kamala Harris and two of her
Democratic Senate colleagues are trying to force the Trump administration to
release documents related to Ukraine and potential investigations into the
president's domestic political rivals through the federal Freedom of
Harris, of California, will join Richard Blumenthal, of Connecticut, and
Sheldon Whitehouse, of Rhode Island, in filing a request Wednesday with the
Department of Justice seeking documents related to Ukraine, China and various
investigations into companies associated with Hunter Biden, the son of
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.
The request comes as the U.S. House of Representatives seeks its own
information via its impeachment inquiry into Trump. The Trump administration
routinely ignores requests from Congress for documents and witnesses, including
from Democrats in the House who have subpoena power.
The three senators, all members of the Judiciary Committee, say they are
turning to the public records law because of the Republican administration's
resistance to sharing information.
But requests via the Freedom of Information Act can take months or even
years to fulfill, meaning it's unlikely the senators will get documents soon,
said Thomas Blanton, director of the National Security Archive and an expert in
the Freedom of Information Act. He said Congress has a history of using the law
to try to pry loose documents from the executive branch. The law also is
frequently used by journalists.
Harris, a former California prosecutor, has achieved viral attention for her
past questioning of Attorney General William Barr. As she tries to rise from
the middle of the 2020 presidential pack to the top tier, the impeachment
inquiry could offer her a fresh opportunity to garner attention.
She and four other senators seeking the Democratic nomination could be
pulled away from the campaign trail if impeachment reaches a Senate trial. The
others are Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Bernie Sanders of Vermont,
Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Cory Booker of New Jersey.
The information request seeks communications to, from or with officials in
the attorney general's office that include roughly 75 words or phrases, such as
Giuliani, the last name of the president's personal attorney; Bill Taylor, the
former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, who gave closed-door testimony to a House
committee Tuesday; and Fraud Guarantee, the name of a company run by Giuliani
associates who have been arrested on campaign finance violations.
The senators want documents showing communications between the attorney
general's office and China or Ukraine regarding Trump's political rivals or any
requests to investigate companies associated with Hunter Biden.
The House impeachment probe was sparked by a whistleblower's complaint about
a July phone call in which Trump told Ukraine's president he wanted "a favor."
The White House later acknowledged in a rough transcript of the conversation
that the favor was Trump's desire for Ukraine to investigate the Democratic
National Committee's email hack in 2016 as well as the Ukrainian gas company
Burisma, tied to Biden's family.