Donald Trump supporters helped monitor ex-US ambassador to Ukraine
A supporter of Donald Trump appeared to have kept the former US ambassador to Ukraine under surveillance in Kyiv, monitoring her movements and security arrangements, according to a batch of documents released on Tuesday by the US House of Representatives intelligence committee.
The documents — including handwritten notes, letters and instant messages — were provided to the committee by Lev Parnas, a south Florida businessman who used his Ukraine connections to assist Rudy Giuliani, Mr Trump’s personal lawyer, in his alleged campaign to try to dig up dirt there on Joe Biden the president’s political foe, former US vice-president.
Some of the documents, including a letter from Mr Giuliani to Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s president, support the narrative that Democratic members of the committee sought to establish during recent impeachment hearings: that Mr Trump abused his office by pressuring Mr Zelensky to announce an investigation into Mr Biden and his son Hunter.
“In my capacity as personal counsel to President Trump and with his knowledge and consent, I request a meeting with you,” Mr Giuliani wrote to Mr Zelensky in May last year. “I will need no more than a half-hour of your time and I will be accompanied by my colleague Victoria Toensing, a distinguished American attorney who is very familiar with this matter.”
Ms Toensing is a Washington lawyer with close ties to Mr Trump and is representing Dmitry Firtash, a Ukrainian oligarch who has been fighting extradition to the US on corruption charges. Mr Parnas apparently referred him to Ms Toensing, and also served as an interpreter.
Yet the most arresting documents may be a series of messages last year between Mr Parnas and Robert F Hyde, a Republican Congressional candidate in Connecticut and Trump supporter. They suggest the two kept Marie Yovanovitch, a US ambassador they believed was hostile to Mr Giuliani’s mission in Ukraine, under surveillance.
“Wow. Can’t believe Trumo [sic] hasn’t fired this bitch. I’ll get right in that,” Mr Hyde wrote on March 23, 2019.
About three hours later he sent Mr Parnas an update on Ms Yovanovitch’s whereabouts: “She under heavy protection outside Kiev.”
Two days later, Mr Hyde wrote to Mr Parnas: “They are moving her tomorrow . . . The guys over they [sic] asked me what I would like to do and what is in it for them.”
Then, after he appeared to urge Mr Parnas to wake up, My Hyde added: “She’s talked to three people. Her phone is off. Her computer is off . . . She’s next to the embassy . . . Not in the embassy.”
Later that day, Mr Hyde wrote: “They are willing to help if we/you would like a price . . . Guess you can do anything in the Ukraine with money . . . what I was told.”
“Lol,” Mr Parnas replied.
Mr Hyde could not immediately be reached for comment. He drew attention in December when he sent a profane tweet in response to the decision by Kamala Harris, the Democratic US senator from California, to end her presidential campaign.
Mr Hyde was also removed from the Trump National Doral golf club in Florida in May after complaining that hit men were threatening his life.
In addition to the Hyde messages, the batch of documents also suggest that Mr Giuliani was trying to secure a visa for Viktor Shokin, Ukraine’s former prosecutor-general, after US authorities had denied it. “I can revive it,” Mr Giuliani assured Mr Parnas.
The documents also include handwritten notes scrawled by Mr Parnas on a notepad embroidered with the logo of the Ritz-Carlton Vienna. They appear to lay out the scheme in simple, contemporaneous form: “Get Zalensky [sic] to Announce The Biden case will Be Investigated,” one reads, with a star, for urgency, scrawled before it. Another reads: “Do my ‘Magic’ and cut deal.”
Yet another note suggests hiring lobbyists for “100,000/month” — either Republicans Robert Stryk or Brian Ballard. Finally, there is also a reminder to get rid of the Democrat the Ukrainians had previously retained to lobby the Obama administration.
“Get rid of Lanny Davis,” Mr Parnas wrote, and then added: “[nicely!]”