Marie Yovanovitch is the former United States Ambassador to Ukraine. We already know that Rudy Giuliani, working with others (including now indicted criminals), initiated a smear campaign of lies to have her ousted from her position. Trump supported the smear campaign and even bad mouthed Yovanovitch, calling her “bad news” and further claiming “the people she was dealing with in the Ukraine were bad news,” in his now infamous phone call to Ukrainian President Zelenskyy. The question now is whether Giuliani and/or Trump went even further, delving into true mobster tactics.
Yovanovitch was removed from her position via a dark-of-the-night (1 am Kyiv time) phone call from State Department Director General of the Foreign Service Carol Perez. This was after a 10 pm call from Perez giving Yovanovitch a “heads up” and warning her that she might have to react quickly to something the State Department was concerned about.
At 1 am Perez called Yovanovitch back stating it was imperative she be on the next plane out of Kyiv because the State Department had concerns for her security. Perez didn’t actually tell Yovanovitch she was removed from her position, but instead repeatedly emphasized Yovanovitch needed to be on the next plane out of Ukraine. The transcript of Yovanovitich’s testimony was noted for its chilling nature at the time.
YOVANOVITCH: Around 1 o’clock in — in the morning, she called me again and she said that there were great concerns. There were concerns up the street and she said I needed to get on the — home — come home immediately. Get on the next plane to the U.S.
And I asked her why. And she said she wasn’t sure, but there were concerns about my security. I asked her, my physical security, because sometimes Washington knows more than we do about these things.
And she said, no, she hadn’t gotten that impression that it was a physical security issue. But they were concerned about my security and I needed to come home right away.
You know, I argued. This is extremely irregular and — and no reason given. But in the end, I — I did get on the next plane home.
GOLDMAN: You said you — there were concerns up the street. What did you understand that to mean?
YOVANOVITCH: The White House.
GOLDMAN: Did she explain in any more detail what she meant by concerns about your security?
YOVANOVITCH: No, she didn’t. I — I did specifically ask whether this had to do with the — Mayor Giuliani’s allegations against me and so forth.
And she said she didn’t know. It didn’t even actually appear to me that she seemed to be aware of that. No — no — no reason was offered.
GOLDMAN: Did she explain what the urgency was for you to come back on the next flight?
YOVANOVITCH: The only thing that’s pertinent to that was that, when she said that there were — there were concerns about my security, that’s all. But it was not further explained.
That testimony has become much more chilling with revelations this week that Rudy Giuliani was having a pro-Trump Republican candidate for Congress work with indicted criminals to have still unknown figures surveil Yovanovitch. The surveillance included discussing her security and discussing a price to do . . . well, we don’t know what.
Let’s step back a bit.
On October 9, 2019 Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman were arrested at Dulles International Airport, attempting to flee the country just a few hours after having lunch with Rudy Giuliani. These two Soviet born naturalized Americans, longtime close associates of Giuliani, were the key Ukraine connection cogs in his smear campaign to against Ambassador Yovanovitch, and their indictment discusses their role in ousting her.
Since his arrest, Parnas has indicated a desire to cooperate. He voluntarily turned over to House investigators phone records, texts, emails and personal notes previously seized by the FBI. These documents contain disturbing new details of the Giuliani-backed team tailing Yovanovitch, even making a statement that can be interpreted as an offer to assault her.
The document dump shows that Parnas, under the direction of Rudy Giuliani, had Marie Yovanovitch, the American ambassador to Ukraine, surveilled by still unknown shady characters. Parnas worked with a Trump-supporting Republican candidate for Congress named Robert Hyde. Hyde, a retired Marine, apparently had associates in Ukraine surveilling the American ambassador as he relayed information back to Parnas by text. Hyde’s rather chilling text comments include:
“They will let me know when she’s on the move… They are willing to help if you/we would like a price.”
This surveillance included detailed evaluations of the level of her security, with such comments as: “Her phone is off. Computer is off.” For further context, other texts by Republican Congressional Candidate Hyde refer to Yovanovitich as a “bitch.” Here are some of the texts from Hyde to Parnas.
“They will let me know when she’s on the move… They are willing to help if you/we would like a price. Guess you can do anything in Ukraine with money… what I was told.”
“She’s talked to three people. Her phone is off. Her computer is off. She’s next to the embassy. Not in the embassy. Private security. Been there since Thursday.”
“Nothing has changed she is still not moving they check today again. It’s confirmed we have a person inside.”
“She [sic] under heavy protection outside Kiev.”
“If you want her out they need to make contact with security forces. From Ukrainians.”
“Fuck that bitch.”
“Wow. Can’t believe Trumo [sic] hasn’t fired this bitch. I’ll get right in that.”
We’re talking about shadowy, still-unknown figures secretly communicating with a close associate of the President’s personal attorney. These shadowy figures are preoccupied by her levels of security. The communications include cryptic statements about getting “her out,” while boasting of having “a person inside,” and a chilling offer to “help” for a price since you can do anything in Ukraine for money. Those still-unknown figures are apparently working for the personal attorney of the President of the United States. For further context, the State Department calls her at 1 am to urge her to take the first plane out Ukraine and return to the United States because of concerns for her security.
In a rational world this would be getting investigated. In a rational world, it already would have been. In a rational world, State Department Director General of the Foreign Service Carol Perez would already have testified under oath to explain in detail the basis for her concern for Yovanovitch’s security. In a rational world Republican Congressional Candidate Robert Hyde would already have been called to account to name who he had tailing a United States ambassador and to explain his potentially threatening descriptions of that surveillance. In a rational world Rudy Giuliani would have already been compelled to explain, under penalty of law, his role in the threatening surveillance of a United States ambassador.
In a rational world, Republicans would be demanding all of this.
In a January 15 interview with Rachel Maddow on MSNBC Parnas he did not take any of the texts from Hyde seriously. While he acknowledged the texts were “disturbing” he basically characterized Hyde as a perpetually drunk, hanger-on blowhard and that he did not believe a single word of his texts.