U.S. will work to determine if ex-ambassador Yovanovitch was under
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[January 18, 2020]
By Humeyra Pamuk
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. State
Department will do everything necessary to determine whether former U.S.
ambassador Marie Yovanovitch was under threat in Ukraine, Secretary of
State Mike Pompeo said on Friday.
Documents released this week indicated Lev Parnas, a Ukraine-born U.S.
citizen, helped U.S. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy
Giuliani investigate U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son
They also showed Parnas was involved in monitoring Yovanovitch's
movements before Trump removed her in May. Yovanovitch, a respected
career diplomat, was a key witness in the U.S. House of Representatives'
investigation of Trump before he was impeached in December.
Late on Friday, a Democratic aide said House Democrats will be sending
additional text messages, photographs and other documents provided by
Parnas for the Senate impeachment trial that gets underway in earnest
Some of the documents appeared to show communications between Parnas and
an aide to Representative Devin Nunes, the senior Republican on the
House Intelligence Committee.
In his first comments on the issue since the documents were released on
Tuesday evening, Pompeo said he had never met nor communicated with
Parnas, adding that he thought much of what had been reported on the
issue would be proven wrong.
"We will do everything we need to do to evaluate whether there was
something that took place there," he told conservative radio host Tony
Katz in an interview.
"I suspect that much of what’s been reported will ultimately prove
wrong, but our obligation, my obligation as secretary of state, is to
make sure that we evaluate, investigate. Any time there is someone who
posits that there may have been a risk to one of our officers, we’ll
obviously do that," he said.
Yovanovitch testified she had received a late night call from Washington
warning her that she needed to return to the United States urgently and
that there were concerns about her safety.
[to top of second column]
Marie Yovanovitch, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, talks with her
attorney and supporters after concluding her testimony before a
House Intelligence Committee hearing as part of the impeachment
inquiry into U.S. President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill in
Washington, U.S., November 15, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Her potentially illegal surveillance could be an important element
of the impeachment trial on whether to remove Trump from office that
formally began on Thursday.
Trump is charged with abusing his power and obstructing Congress for
pressuring Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, a
Democratic political rival. Trump denies wrongdoing.
The documents released on Tuesday included encrypted messages
between Parnas, a Florida businessman, and Robert F. Hyde, a
Republican congressional candidate in Connecticut, disparaging
Yovanovitch and apparently providing updates on her movements in
"It is always the case at the Department of State that we do
everything we can to ensure that our officers, not only our
ambassadors but our entire team, has the security level that’s
appropriate," Pompeo said.
"We do our best to make sure that no harm will come to anyone,
whether that was what was going on in our embassy in Baghdad last
week or the work that was going on in Kyiv up and through the spring
of last year when Ambassador Yovanovitch was there, and in our
embassy in Kyiv even today," he added.
The Ukrainian Interior Ministry on Thursday also announced an
investigation into the possible illegal surveillance of Yovanovitch.
House prosecutors may call Parnas if the Senate permits testimony in
(Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk; additional reporting by Makini Brice,
Susan Cornwell, Richard Cowan and Mark Hosenball; Editing by Paul
Simao, Tom Brown and Sonya Hepinstall)
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