Jan 15, 2020

Yovanovitch urges Ukraine probe after Parnas phone records release

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."

Go deeper:

Go deeper

New Lev Parnas records detail Ukraine surveillance efforts, contact with Devin Nunes aide

Lev Parnas arrives at federal court on Dec. 17 in New York City. Photo: Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

The House Intelligence Committee released materials Friday provided by Lev Parnas, who investigators say acted as a "direct channel" between President Trump's attorney Rudy Giuliani and individuals close to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Driving the news: The new materials detail conversations between Parnas and one of House Intelligence Ranking Member Devin Nunes' aides and highlight surveillance efforts against Marie Yovanovitch, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. Nunes was one of the top investigators in Trump's impeachment probe.

Go deeperArrowJan 18, 2020

Lev Parnas: "Trump knew exactly what was going on" in Ukraine

Lev Parnas, a close Rudy Giuliani associate and central figure in the pressure campaign on Ukraine, told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow last night: "President Trump knew exactly what was going on. He was aware of all my movements. ... I wouldn't do anything without the consent of Rudy Giuliani or the president."

Why it matters: If true, the claim presents detailed connective tissue between Parnas' activities in Ukraine and Trump.

Go deeperArrowJan 16, 2020

Ukraine to investigate possible Yovanovitch surveillance

Photo: Andrew Harrer/AFP via Getty Images

Ukraine's Interior Ministry announced it is launching a criminal investigation into possible illegal surveillance of former U.S. ambassador Marie Yovanovitch and the hacking of natural gas company Burisma Holdings, NBC News reports.

Why it matters: The decision comes two days after Democrats released documents that appear to show Lev Parnas, an associate of President Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, indicating he discussed surveilling Yovanovitch in March 2019.

Go deeperArrowJan 16, 2020