Washington – House Democrats are seeking more information about whether Connecticut congressional candidate Robert Hyde helped orchestrate the physical and electronic surveillance of former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.
Rep. Eliot Engle, D-N.Y. the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee has demanded that the State Department reveal what it knew about allegations that Hyde and others had placed Yovanovitch, who was eventually fired by the president, under surveillance.
Documents released by House impeachment investigators late Tuesday indicate that an associate of President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph Giuliani corresponded with Hyde about tracking the movements of the former envoy.
The documents produced by that associate, Lev Parnas, in response to a congressional subpoena, show Hyde texting Parnas. “They will let me know when she’s on the move … They are willing to help if you/we would like a price,” he wrote, and, “She talked to three people. Her phone is off. Computer is off.” Other texts sent by Hyde said, “She’s next to the embassy” and “Private security. Been there since Thursday.”
“Documents turned over to the Intelligence Committee by Lev Parnas include a profoundly alarming dialogue between Mr. Parnas and Robert Hyde, a Trump donor,” Engle said. “The messages suggest a possible risk to Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch’s security in Kiev before she was recalled from her post last year. These threats occurred at the same time that the two men were also discussing President Trump’s efforts, through Rudy Giuliani, to smear the ambassador’s reputation.”
Engle said the Foreign Affairs Committee staff has contacted the State Department Bureau of Diplomatic Security to “flag this information and seek assurances that proper steps have been taken to ensure the security of Embassy Kiev and that of Ambassador Yovanovitch.”
Without offering details, Engel said he’s “confident this matter is getting the attention it merits.”
Yovanovitch is now a diplomat in residence at the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy at Georgetown University. Her lawyer has called for an investigation into the messages.
Rep. Jim Himes, D-4th District, a senior member of the House Intelligence Committee, said Wednesday he supports that idea.
“My guess is that he was just bloviating with Mr. Parnas, but there’s a need to investigate whether there was surveillance of Ambassador Yovanovitch,” Himes said.
He said Congress should search for more information about Hyde and his role in the Ukraine scandal, but said he was leery of “giving someone like that a platform” at a hearing.
“I would also hope that law enforcement take a look at this,” Himes said.
Hyde’s messages — and the other information Parnas provided — have become part of the House Democrat’s impeachment file and will be forwarded to the Senate along with two articles of impeachment.
Himes said his panel expects more information from Parnas, and possibly Hyde.
“We are receiving information on a rolling basis,” Himes said.
Giuliani believed Yovanovitch stood in the way of his goals in Ukraine, according to testimony provided to lawmakers.
During Intelligence Committee impeachment hearings last year, Yovanovitch detailed a shadow campaign Giuliani conducted to strong-arm Ukraine into acceding to Trump’s demands for an investigation, or at least the announcement of an investigation, into Joe Biden.
The records released by Parnas appear to show former top Ukraine prosecutor Yuri Lutsenko offering Giuliani damaging information on Biden and his son Hunter, in exchange for the firing of Yovanovitch.
Hyde has not returned several calls requesting comment. Instead, he tweeted Wednesday: “I have provided extensive comments on this matter which will be made publicly available at 7 PM this evening. I will have no further comment until then.”
Hyde’s relationship with Parnas is unclear. So are many other things related to the Republican who is running to unseat Rep. Jahana Hayes, D-5th District.
A search of public records shows he has owned residences in Delray Beach, Fla., and Canton, Conn. and has several judgments and liens from creditors against him and his landscaping business.
Yet Hyde has donated more than $50,000 to the Republican National Committee and the Trump campaign.
Leading Connecticut Republicans, including House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, called for Hyde to drop out of the 5th District race after he posted an obscene tweet about Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., on the day she dropped out of the presidential race.
Klarides said Wednesday that the new revelations about Hyde confirm he “does not have the character or the temperament” to run for political office.
“He’s just not someone who represents the Republican Party in Connecticut,” Klarides said.
GOP Chairman J.R. Romano also called on Hyde to remove himself from the race Wednesday.
“I have asked Rob Hyde to end his bid for Congress,” Romano tweeted. “His campaign is a distraction for the Democrats to raise money and falsely label all Republicans with his antics. In my view he is not helping other Republican candidates or @realDonaldTrump win.”
Hyde appeared unbowed Wednesday.