Jan 15, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Yovanovitch urges Ukraine probe after Parnas phone records release

Former Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch appears before the House Intelligence Committee

Marie Yovanovitch, former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, appears before the House Intelligence Committee on Nov. 15 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images

A lawyer for former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch told MSNBC Tuesday an investigation should be launched into whether she was monitored in Kyiv after newly released records shed new light on events leading up to her ouster.

Driving the news: House Democrats released a trove of documents earlier Tuesday, including phone records of Lev Parnas, an associate of President Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, which appear to indicate he discussed surveilling Yovanovitch in March 2019.

[T]he notion that American citizens and others were monitoring Amb. Yovanovitch's movements for unknown purposes is disturbing. We trust that the appropriate authorities will conduct an investigation."
— Statement by Yovanovitch's lawyer to MSNBC

Why it matters: Per Axios' Alayna Treene: A public release of some or all of these materials could give Democrats new ammunition to argue that the White House must turn over more information and allow new testimony from witnesses.

  • The records released Tuesday "offered new details on the shadow diplomacy campaign at the center of Mr. Trump’s impeachment and highlighted the effort to remove Ms. Yovanovitch," the New York Times notes.

Flashback: Yovanovitch testified in November that she was the subject of a smear campaign spearheaded by Giuliani that led to her firing.

Zoom in: The documents include text message exchanges between Parnas and Robert Hyde, a Republican congressional candidate and Trump donor in March 2019. (This is the first time Hyde's name has been mentioned in the case against Trump.)

  • Per the documents, Hyde said: "If you want her out, they need to make contact with security forces. They know she’s a political puppet. They will let me know when she's on the move … They are willing to help if you/we would like a price. ... Guess you can do anything in Ukraine with money… what I was told."
  • Parnas replied, "LOL."

The records also show Giuliani wrote a letter asking for a private meeting last spring with Volodymyr Zelensky, who was then Ukraine's president-elect, with Trump's "knowledge and consent."

  • "Mr. Giuliani has previously said he was acting at Mr. Trump’s direction in his dealings with Ukrainian officials, but the letter released on Tuesday is the first public document that says he was doing so," the Times writes.

The big picture: Parnas, who faces federal charges, provided the documents to House Democrats as additional evidence for the impeachment inquiry.

What they're saying: Hyde posted a tweet later Tuesday night criticizing House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) following the documents' release.

"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."

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