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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 
Information Act.

   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.


(KR)

 
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