The Ukrainian Ministry of Interior launched an investigation on the claims Thursday. The former US ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, was placed under surveillance in the country by people linked to the personal lawyer of President Donald Trump.
The investigation carried out by Ukraine came after the House Democrats on Tuesday published a treasure trove of documents, including telephone records, which seemed to indicate that Lev Parnas, Trump’s lawyer associate Rudy Giuliani discussed Yovanovitch’s follow-up. in March 2019. Parnas is a central figure in Trump’s political trial investigation.
In a statement, the Ministry of Interior of Ukraine said it does not want to interfere in the internal affairs of the United States, but cannot ignore potentially illegal activities and that it needs to protect the rights and security of foreign diplomats deployed in its territory. He said his investigation is intended to determine whether “there really was a violation” or “just bravado and false information during an informal conversation between two US citizens.”
Text messages published by House Democrats showed that Parnas was in contact with Robert Hyde, a candidate for the pro-Trump Congress in Connecticut who claimed to have Yovanovitch under surveillance. In March, Parnas sent articles critical of Yovanovich to Hyde. Hyde replied: “Wow. I can’t believe that Trumo [sic] has not shot this b **** “.
Hyde also sent Parnas a series of messages suggesting that he had hired people in Ukraine to monitor the ambassador and that he was receiving updates on his whereabouts and activities. “He has talked to three people. His phone is off. The computer is turned off,” Hyde wrote in a message. In another: “They’ll let me know when I’m on the move.”
It is not clear who was supposedly hired to track Yovanovitch: Ukrainians or Americans.
Yovanovich was suddenly removed from office as ambassador. She told three House committees that Trump pressured the State Department to remove her from office.
Parnas, born in Ukraine, worked with Giuliani to execute the alleged Ukrainian pressure campaign on Trump, which Trump’s critics said was aimed at dirtying his political rival, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. Trump denies the accusations.
Parnas said in a Wednesday television interview that “Trump knew exactly what was happening” in Ukraine during the alleged White House pressure campaign, but Stephanie Grisham, White House press secretary, rejected Thursday in a statement, saying that the ” accusations are being made by a man who is currently on bail for federal crimes and is desperate to reduce his exposure to jail.The facts have not changed: the president did nothing wrong and this dismissal, which was fabricated and taken to out by the Democrats, it has been a farce of the beginning. ”
Marc Short, chief of staff of Vice President Mike Pence, said Parnas “will say anything to anyone who listens in hopes of staying out of prison.”
Still, Rep. Eliot Engel, a New York Democrat, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, described the evidence revealed in the telephone records as “deeply alarming.”
In a letter he sent on Wednesday night to Undersecretary of State Brian Bulatao, Engel wrote: “Mr. Hyde said in a message that he had ‘a person inside’, presumably at the US embassy in Kiev, which is “Willing to help if we would like a price. The strong implication of these messages is that someone with detailed knowledge of the whereabouts and security protocols of the Ambassador was providing that information in real time to Mr. Hyde and Mr. Parnas. I cannot exaggerate the profound security risk that this represents for the United States mission and our interests in Ukraine. “
The Interior Ministry of Ukraine also said it was investigating a possible cyber attack by Russian military hackers at the energy company Burisma, which is at the center of the political trial investigation due to its links with Joe Biden’s son, Hunter.
Trump’s political trial officially begins on Thursday, when House lawmakers will read aloud the articles of political trial that accuse him of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, but he is not expected to begin the trial seriously before Tuesday .
The Chamber has already approved the articles of political judgment.
A two-thirds majority of the Senate would be required to condemn and remove Trump from office, which is unlikely because Republicans outnumber Democrats 53 to 47.
BurismaRussians may have hacked the Ukrainian firm at the heart of Trump’s accusation
Contributing: David Jackson