Trump wins dismissal of Ukraine back-channel diplomacy lawsuit

Tribune Content Agency

The Trump administration won the dismissal of a lawsuit claiming it violated federal record-keeping requirements by conducting off-the-books diplomacy with Ukrainian officials — the same conduct at the center of the president’s impeachment.

U.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg in Washington, D.C., threw out the suit, saying the alleged actions by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, among others, were isolated and didn’t appear to be part of a formal “policy or practice” that could be found to violate the Federal Records Act.

“To the extent that a few isolated actions involved some State Department personnel, plaintiffs cannot transform an allegedly brazen compliance violation into a ‘policy or practice’ claim simply by slapping the ‘policy or practice’ label on it,” Boasberg said in the decision Friday.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington claimed in the November lawsuit that Pompeo signed off on the back-channel effort, allowing then-Special Envoy for Ukraine Kurt Volker to use “secret and irregular” talks to bypass record-keeping requirements and clearing then-European Union Ambassador Gordon Sondland to block transcription of Trump’s call with Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

The transcript of Trump’s call was one of the main reasons for his impeachment, showing he had asked Ukraine’s president to open an investigation into Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden in exchange for release of military aid for the country.


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