Judicial Watch announced on Dec. 4 it has filed suit in federal court seeking to force the Department of State to release documents the nonprofit government watchdog requested two months ago concerning the “untouchables” list former U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch gave Ukraine Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko in 2016.
The State Department acknowledged receiving the Judicial Watch FOIA the same day it was filed, Sept. 24. But the government has since failed to produce “the requested records or demonstrated that the requested records are lawfully exempt from production,” or informed Judicial Watch “of the scope of any responsive records they intend to produce or withhold and the reasons for any withholdings.”
Judicial Watch sought the documents after investigative journalist John Solomon reported on March 26 that “Lutsenko told me he was stunned when the ambassador ‘gave me a list of people whom we should not prosecute.’”
More recently, The New York Times reported that “shortly after taking up her post in 2016, the American ambassador to Ukraine, Marie L. Yovanovitch, went to meet the new prosecutor general, Mr. Lutsenko, in his office—and complained that his deputies were stained by corruption, according to two Ukrainian officials familiar with the encounter.”
“The ambassador then pressed Mr. Lutsenko further, the officials said, asking him to stop investigating anti-corruption activists who were supported by the American Embassy and had criticized his work.”
The anti-corruption activists Yovanovitch sought to protect against Lutsenko’s investigation were associated with Ukraine’s Anti-Corruption Action Center (AntAC), which was funded by the U.S. government under President Barack Obama and by grants from organizations controlled by left-wing European financier George Soros, according to Judicial Watch.
“The implied message to Ukraine’s prosecutors was clear: Don’t target AntAC in the middle of an American presidential election in which Soros was backing Hillary Clinton to succeed another Soros favorite, Barack Obama, Ukrainian officials said,” Solomon reported.
Solomon also reported that then-U.S. Embassy Chargé d’ Affaires George Kent had also sought to derail Lutsenko’s investigations.
Yovanovitch, who was dismissed from her diplomatic post in May 2017 by President Donald Trump, and Kent testified earlier this year before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in both closed-door and public hearings. The former ambassador claimed in her deposition that she didn’t provide Lutsenko with the list.
Yovanovitch retains her government salary while teaching one course at Georgetown University.
The Sept. 24 FOIA request was part of Judicial Watch’s investigation of reports that Yovanovitch also used government resources to target multiple prominent conservative figures allied with Trump and journalists.
Among those Judicial Watch said were targeted by Yovanovitch were Fox News figures Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, and Dan Bongino, as well as journalists Jack Posobiec and Sara Carter, and former Trump White House official Sebastian Gorka.
In its suit, Judicial Watch asked the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to order the State Department to produce the requested records or explain why they are exempted from disclosure, including:
All records of communication between the Department of State and any representative of the Ukrainian government regarding any actual or proposed investigation or prosecution of the AntAC; the International Renaissance Foundation [Open Society Foundations’ office in Ukraine]; or Transparency International.
All records concerning any meeting or telephonic conversation between Yovanovitch and Lutsenko.
All records related to the list of individuals and entities provided to Lutsenko by Yovanovitch in late 2016.
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement announcing the suit that “reports suggest that the Ukrainian Embassy was a hotbed of anti-Trump, Deep State activism and tried to promote and protect leftist allies in Ukraine and the United States.
“As the coup attack on President Trump continues, this new federal lawsuit is designed to get to the real truth of the Deep State’s games in Ukraine.”
Contact Mark Tapscott at Mark.Tapscott@epochtimes.nyc