The US Department of Justice (DOJ) revealed in a court filing late Friday that it has in its possession two dozen emails regarding President Donald Trump’s involvement in the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative debacle.
The Center for Public Integrity (CPI) filed suit in the US District Court for the District of Columbia on October 30 against the Department of Defense (DOD). The CPI invoked the Freedom of Information Act to ask the court to compel the DOD to disclose all communications between the DOD and the comptroller’s office or the Office of Management and Budget regarding the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI).
The court granted the CPI’s request in November and ordered the DOD to produce the requested documents.
The DOD produced the requested documents, including 24 heavily redacted email communications. The CPI requested that the court compel the DOD to produce the emails without redaction. The government, on the other hand, filed a motion for summary judgment asking the court to dismiss the case since it had complied with the court’s order by producing the requested documents.
However, The DOJ also revealed for the first time, in its motion, that the 24 emails are communications by either Trump, Vice President Mike Pence or Trump’s advisers relating to Trump’s decision-making process about the scope, duration and purpose of the hold on the USAI funds, and are thus protected under the presidential communications privilege.
This revelation comes just hours after the US Senate’s decision to deny consideration of additional documents and witnesses in Trump’s impeachment trial.