Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday that the State Department will investigate whether a Republican congressional candidate and a former associate of Rudy Giuliani had Marie Yovanovitch under surveillance last year when she served as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.
“We will do everything we need to do to evaluate whether there was something that took place there,” Pompeo said in a radio interview with conservative radio host Tony Katz, according to the Associated Press.
The House Intelligence Committee released text messages Wednesday that showed Robert Hyde, a Republican congressional candidate from Connecticut, suggested to former Giuliani associate Lev Parnas that he was tracking Yovanovitch’s movements in Ukraine.
The messages were part of a trove of documents that Parnas provided House Democrats.
Hyde wrote to Parnas on March 23, 2019 that he had “private security” placed near Yovanovitch in Kyiv.
“She’s talked to three people. Her phone is off. Computer is off,” Hyde wrote in one message.
The Ukrainian ministry of internal affairs said Thursday that the national police force is investigating the matter.
Parnas said Wednesday in an interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow that he never took Hyde’s comments seriously.
Pompeo also said that he doubts the threats against Yovanovitch were legitimate, but that Foggy Bottom will still look into the matter.
“I suspect that much of what’s been reported will ultimately prove wrong, but our obligation, my obligation as secretary of state, is to make sure that we evaluate, investigate,” he told Katz.
“Any time there is someone who posits that there may have been a risk to one of our officers, we’ll obviously do that.”
FBI agents reportedly visited Hyde’s home and office Thursday
Pompeo has come under heavy criticism for not publicly defending Yovanovitch from a smear campaign led by Giuliani and Parnas. Other messages released by Democrats show that Giuliani told an associate, lawyer Victoria Toensing, that he had discussed Yovanovitch with Pompeo.
“Is there absolute commitment to HER being gone this week?” Toensing wrote Giuliani on Feb. 10, 2019.
“Yes not sure how absolute,” Giuliani replied. “Pompeii [sic] is now aware of it. Talking to him on Friday.”
Trump ultimately recalled Yovanovitch from her post on April 24, 2019.
Parnas, 47, was indicted on Oct. 10 on campaign finance charges. The indictment alleged that Parnas made straw donations to a Republican lawmaker in 2018, in part to force Yovanovitch from office. The indictment said that Parnas undertook the effort on behalf of at least one Ukrainian government official.
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