In his July 25 phone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, Donald Trump attacked the fired United States ambassador to that country, Marie Yovanovitch, calling her “bad news” and stating that the 33-year-veteran of the U.S. diplomatic core was “going to go through some things.”
On Tuesday, the House Intelligence Committee released a trove of documents and text messages that offered a clue as to what the president may have meant with his vague threat against Yovanovitch. The documents and texts were provided by Lev Parnas, the close associate of presidential lawyer Rudy Giuliani who is now under indictment on charges that he illegally funneled hundreds of thousands in Russian cash to Republican candidates — including to a pro-Trump SuperPAC.
In a March 25, 2019, text message exchange between Parnas and Connecticut Republican congressional candidate Robert F. Hyde — who is also reportedly a Trump donor — Hyde appears to say that he was in touch with unnamed persons in Ukraine who had Yovanovitch under surveillance. The exchange was posted to Twitter by Politico national security reporter Natasha Bertrand.
“They are willing to help if you/we would like a price,” the candidate reportedly says in two texts. “Guess you can do anything in Ukraine with money.”
It was unclear exactly what Hyde was suggesting, but he had supposedly told Parnas that the people in Ukraine had Yovanovitch under surveillance, making his new suggestion of “help” for “a price” appear to be an escalation in actions against the U.S. ambassador.
In his texts with Parnas, Hyde also refers to Yovanovitch as a “b**ch.” His Instagram page contains at least three photos of himself with Trump, all posted this month.
The Instagram page also includes a photo of Hyde with the president’s middle son, Eric Trump.
Yovanovitch was fired by Trump on May 20, 2019, the same day that Zelensky was inaugurated as Ukraine’s new president. By firing the ambassador, who was appointed by President Barack Obama three years earlier, he allegedly paved the way for his and Giuliani’s efforts to pressure Zelensky to stage an investigation of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, who remains a front-runner to win his party’s nomination.
Hyde’s name has not previously surfaced in the Ukraine impeachment investigation. According to a Hartford Courant report, he was a political unknown when he launched a congressional bid to unseat first-term Democrat Jahana Hayes in Connecticut’s Fifth District.
But last month, he faced calls to drop out of the race after he posted a controversial tweet about California Senator Kamala Harris, who had just dropped out of the Democratic race.
According to the Hartford Courant, Hyde has made political donations totaling about $56,000 since October 2016, mostly to the Republican National Committee, as well as to Trump’s reelection campaign.