Marie Yovanovitch, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine who was ousted earlier this year, called for an investigation Tuesday just hours after Democrats released new evidence in President Donald Trump’s impeachment case that details Rudy Giuliani’s push to remove Yovanovitch from her post.
The House Intelligence Committee released a collection of documents obtained from Giuliani’s indicted associate Lev Parnas. The evidence includes WhatsApp messages between Parnas and a Connecticut congressional candidate who apparently tracked Yovanovitch’s location in March.
Lawrence Robbins, an attorney representing Yovanovitch, released a statement to several news outlets Tuesday night saying that the idea that the then-ambassador was being surveilled is “disturbing.”
“Needless to say, the notion that American citizens and others were monitoring Ambassador Yovanovitch’s movements for unknown purposes is disturbing,” Robbins said in his statement, reported by NBC News and USA Today. “We trust that the appropriate authorities will conduct an investigation to determine what happened.”
Parnas received messages from Robert F. Hyde in March 2019 that contained details about Yovanovitch’s location in Ukraine from people who appeared to be tailing her in Kyiv. Those messages came in response to articles, tweets and videos accusing Yovanovitch of being disloyal to Trump ― which Yovanovitch has denied and said was part of a smear campaign by Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer.
“Wow. Can’t believe Trumo [sic] hasn’t fired this bitch. I’ll get right in that,” Hyde, the Republican congressional candidate, wrote to Parnas before sending him several updates about her whereabouts.
“They are willing to help if we/you would like a price,” Hyde said in a separate text message. “Guess you can do anything in the Ukraine with money… what I was told.”
Yovanovitch was removed in May as ambassador after Republicans complained she was undermining efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, one of Trump’s political rivals in the 2020 presidential election. She testified in the House’s impeachment inquiry that the president was politically motivated to pressure the State Department to remove her because she was an obstacle for Trump and his allies to carry out shadow diplomacy in Ukraine.
Hyde, who is a friend of Trump’s, responded to reports of the released documents by telling NBC News, “How low can liddle Adam Bull Schiff go. To take some texts my buddy’s and I wrote while we had a few drinks to some dweeb I met a few times.... Bull Schiff is a desperate turd,” referring to House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.).
Parnas is a Florida businessman who helped Giuliani try to find dirt on Biden. Parnas and Igor Fruman, another Giuliani associate, were arrested in October on charges they funneled foreign money into Republican campaigns, including Trump’s. That arrest came as the House was conducting its impeachment inquiry into the president.
Parnas eventually complied with the impeachment inquiry by privately testifying and providing lawmakers with access to phone records and documents that were seized during his arrest. Over this past weekend, Parnas’s attorney Joseph Bondy asked a judge to let him turn over additional documents he considered essential to Trump’s impeachment case, including records from two cellphones and an iPad.
The release of documents comes a day before the House is expected to vote on whether to send the articles of impeachment against Trump to the Senate. The House voted in December to impeach the president on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.