The House Permanent Select Intel Committee on Tuesday released a tranche of documents that were handed over to them by Ukrainian-Floridian businessman Lev Parnas. The documents appeared to confirm that individuals with ties to Rudy Giuliani and President Donald Trump physically and electronically spied on then-U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. The revelation that such unprecedented measures were taken against an American ambassador left current and former diplomats aghast and led many to call for the ouster of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Parnas, a former business associate of Giuliani’s facing a number of federal charges in the Southern District of New York, provided lawmakers with handwritten notes and electronic messages that revealed Yovanovitch was being watched. The messages also revealed the involvement of foul-mouthed GOP congressional candidate from Connecticut, Robert Hyde.
The revelations were “Not just insane, but deeply chilling,” a current State Department official told Foreign Policy magazine.
“If this story is true, it would be an unprecedented and outrageous attack on an American Ambassador overseas,” Harvard Kennedy School professor and former U.S. Ambassador to NATO Nicholas Burns wrote Wednesday. “Pompeo should stand up [and] defend Ambassador Yovanovitch. Congress should ask tough questions of an Administration that has done enormous damage to the State Department.”
The newfound evidence has also brought increased scrutiny on what Pompeo knew and what role he played in Yovanovitch’s abrupt dismissal from her diplomatic post in May of 2019. Publicly available records show that Pompeo communicated with Giuliani several times in the weeks leading up to Yovanovitch’s exit, even accepting a questionably-sourced research report on her tenure compiled by the former NYC mayor.
Pompeo’s senior advisor Michael McKinley testified that he resigned from his post in October after the Secretary refused to defend Yovanovitch from the spurious character attacks.
“The fact that all this has occurred under Pompeo’s watch and that he has never once defended her is reason enough that he resign immediately. The fact that he may have been complicit could be reason he should be prosecuted,” foreign policy expert David Rothkopf remarked. “He is beyond incompetent. He is dangerous.”
The fact that all this has occurred under Pompeo’s watch and that he has never once defended her is reason enough that he resign immediately. The fact that he may have been complicit could be reason he should be prosecuted. He is beyond incompetent. He is dangerous.
— David Rothkopf (@djrothkopf) January 15, 2020
Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin said Pompeo deserved to be impeached.
“Worst [Secretary of State] ever,” Rubin commented. “Lied about [Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud], lied about ‘imminent,’ didn’t protect Yovanovitch, lied about progress w [North Korea], participated in Trump cover-up. Frankly HE deserves impeachment”
Rubin’s sentiment was echoed by Hillary Clinton ally, Yale Law grad, and President of the Center for American Progress Neera Tanden.
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and others are demanding answers.
Earlier Wednesday, the State Department abruptly canceled two classified congressional briefings that were supposed to focus on embassy security and the U.S.-Iran relationship.
[Image via BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images]
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