Vermont Senator and 2020 presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and others have called for an investigation into whether former ambassador Marie Yovanovitch was surveilled by men working under the direction of Rudy Giuliani.
“It is outrageous that the President’s personal lawyers appear to have directed the surveillance of a U.S. ambassador,” Sanders said on Wednesday afternoon. “This must be fully investigated as the Senate conducts the impeachment trial. “We have a responsibility to hold this lawless administration to account.“
Sanders’ tweeted statement in support of such an investigation was the first call for an official inquiry from a member of Congress but wasn’t likely to be the last.
As Law&Crime previously reported, the House Judiciary Committee released a 38-page file containing evidence uncovered in an ongoing investigation focused Ukrainian-Floridians Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman.
The shocking tranche of documents was widely reported on due to strong evidence that Parnas and Fruman were working in concert with Republican congressional candidate Robert Hyde to keep tabs on Yovanovitch’s movements. Many commentators suggested the diplomat was being followed and possibly in physical harm.
A series of text messages from Hyde to Parnas disparaging Yovanovitch buoyed that interpretation.
”Fuck that bitch,” Hyde says in one message. Parnas responds by sending a link to a Laura Ingraham tirade. Hyde sends another reading: “Wow. Can’t believe Trumo [sic] hasn’t fired this bitch. I’ll get right in that.”
“She [sic] under heavy protection outside Kiev,” Hyde says. “I know crazy shit,” Parnas replies. Hyde responds: “My guy thinks maybe FSB…?”
In a largely unanswered series of messages, Hyde tells Parnas:“They are moving her tomorrow;” “The guys over they asked me what I would like to do and what is in it for them;” “Wake up Yankees man;” “She’s talked to three people. Her phone is off. Computer is off;” “She’s next to the embassy;” “Not in the embassy;” “Private security. Been there since Thursday.”
“Interesting,” Parnas finally responds.
Hyde then sends another barrage:
They know she’s a political puppet.
They will let me know when she’s on the move.
And they’ll let me know when she’s on the move.
To which Parnas texts back: “Perfect.”
After those and other messages about Yovanovitch’s movements, Hyde tells Parnas: “Are willing to help if we/you would like a price.”
Hyde then follows up: “Guess you can do anything in Ukraine with money…what I was told.” Parnas replies: “Lol.”
The impression left by those messages was that a sitting U.S. ambassador was being surreptitiously and untowardly followed by men working under the direction of the president’s personal attorney—and for the president’s benefit—possibly at the president’s request.
“With every layer that gets peeled back and evidence unveiled, the worse this whole saga gets for the president,” national security attorney Bradley P. Moss told Law&Crime. “Not only did we get more confirmation that Rudy’s efforts were directly authorized by the president, but we learned that these personal henchmen were physically stalking a U.S. Ambassador. This is beyond chilling.”
Former U.S. ambassador to Qatar Dana Shell Smith noted the upshot of the Parnas document dump was was a U.S.-based ”plot against the security of a U.S. Ambassador.”
Expect calls for Congress to look into what exactly occurred between Parnas, Fruman, Giuliani, Hyde and Trump viz. Yovanovitch and possible surveillance to increase apace.
Yovanovitch herself called for such an investigation by way of a statement issued by her attorney Lawrence S. Robbins late Tuesday night.
“Needless to say, the notion that American citizens and others were monitoring Ambassador Yovanovitch’s movements for unknown purposes is disturbing,” he said. “We trust that the appropriate authorities will conduct an investigation to determine what happened.”
Sanders was later joined in his call for an investigation by fellow 2020 candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.):
The revelations in these text messages are shocking, and we must get to the bottom of them. I stand with Ambassador Yovanovitch and all of our diplomats, who deserve to be supported and protected by our government—not undermined or threatened. https://t.co/mtU4mTA9QV
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) January 15, 2020
[image via NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images]