Updated 11:00 am. Wednesday with Bondi comments.
Washington – Robert F. Hyde, a Simsbury construction company owner, Trump donor and a Republican candidate for the U.S. House, is now a figure in the presidential impeachment inquiry after documents suggest he spied on the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch.
On Tuesday, Democratic chairmen of House committees who conducted President Donald Trump’s impeachment inquiry released 40 text messages from Hyde, many concerning Yovanovitch. The messages are part of a package of documents and telephone records sent to the House Judiciary Committee that Democrats seek to make part of the official record that will be transmitted to the Senate next week alongside two articles of impeachment.
The documents show Ukraine’s top prosecutor offering Lev Parnas, a former associate of Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph Giuliani, damaging information about former Vice President Joe Biden in exchange for the Trump administration’s removal of Yovanovitch.
In one WhatsApp message to Parnas dated March 23, Hyde wrote “Can’t believe Trump hasn’t fire this bitch. I’ll get right in that.” And another on that same day, “She(sic) under heavy protection outside Kiev.”
Hyde’s involvement in the Ukraine scandal was not previously known before the release of the documents Tuesday, nor is it clear the nature of his association with Parnas or other Trump associates. Some of his messages to Parnas imply he had access to people spying on Yovanovitch in Kiev.
On March 25, he writes “The guys over there asked me what I would like to do and what is in it for them.”
Another message said “They know she’s a political puppet,” followed by “They will let me know when she’s on the move … They are willing to help if you/we would like a price.”
Later, that same day, he wrote: “She talked to three people. Her phone is off. Computer is off.” And “She’s next to the embassy” and “Private security. Been there since Thursday.”
Parnas attorney Joseph Bondi on Wednesday said “we completely categorically deny that Lev was involved in any activities with Hyde to surveil or try to harm the ambassador.”
“We believe Mr Hyde’s activities to be a reflection on his dubious mental state,” Parnas said
In his letter to Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jerold Nadler, D-N.Y., Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the head of the House Intelligence Committee, said “despite unprecedented obstruction by the president, the committee continues to receive and review potentially relevant evidence and will make supplemental transmittals….”
Hyde did not respond to requests for comment, but reacted to the release of his messages in a scatological tweet.
“How low can liddle Adam Bull Schiff go? I was never in Kiev. For them to take some texts my buddy’s and I wrote back to some dweeb we were playing with that we met a few times while we had a few drinks is definitely laughable. Schiff is a desperate turd playing with this Lev guy,” Hyde tweeted.
Lawrence Robbins, an attorney for Yovanovitch, who was eventually fired by Trump, called for an investigation into the messages.
“Needless to say, the notion that American citizens and others were monitoring Ambassador Yovanovitch’s movements for unknown purposes is disturbing,” Robbins said. “We trust that the appropriate authorities will conduct an investigation to determine what happened.”
Hyde’s messages about Yovanovitch have come to light because Parnas, who has been indicted on federal charges of conspiracy, responded to a congressional subpoena by turning over a trove of documents that provide new information about the effort to coerce Ukraine into investigating Biden.
Hyde is attempting to unseat Rep. Jahana Hayes, D-5th District. His bid to be elected to Congress stumbled last month after he wrote a sexually suggestive tweet about Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., on the day she withdrew from the presidential race. He drew widespread condemnation from leaders of both political parties in the state.
Hayes on Wednesday reacted to the release of Hyde’s texts.
“I am working my way through all of the documents in real time, just as you are,” Hayes said. “What I have seen so far is deeply disturbing, to say the least. I cannot believe this is coming from my own district. This does not represent who we are and is definitely not reflective of CT-05. I will continue to represent the values of my district. ”
In his campaign bio, Hyde says he’s a former Marine and a Iraqi Freedom war veteran who helped establish Toys for Tots in the Farmington Valley and is an ardent Trump supporter.
Other documents sent to the Judiciary Committee detail attempts to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
“Get Zalensky (sic) to announce that the Biden case will be investigated,” said a handwritten note from Parnas on the stationary of the Ritz Carlton in Vienna.
That note provoked a tweet from Rep. Jim Himes, D-4th District.
“It’s written in black and white,” Himes tweeted. ” Let’s see if my colleagues decide they have a duty to uphold the Constitution, or if fealty to the president is all that matters.”