Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday said he was not aware of any surveillance of Marie Yovanovitch during her time in Kyiv as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, his first public comments on allegations that associates of Rudy Giuliani surveilled the career diplomat as they pushed for her removal.
“I never heard about this at all,” Pompeo said in an interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt when asked if he was aware that Yovanovitch was being surveilled.
Pompeo said he was only aware of the suggestion that the ambassador was being followed after the release of text messages describing the effort, released this week by the House Intelligence Committee as part of evidence in the impeachment trial against President Trump.
“Until the story broke ahead, to the best of my recollection I had never heard of this at all,” Pompeo said, adding that he intends to “evaluate, investigate” whether Yovanovitch was under surveillance.
“We will do everything we need to do to evaluate whether there was something that took place there,” he said in a separate interview Friday with radio host Tony Katz.
“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,” he said. “Any time there is someone who posits that there may have been a risk to one of our officers, we’ll obviously do that.”
The text exchanges released this week were between Lev Parnas, an associate of Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, and Robert Hyde, a Trump campaign donor, former Marine and Connecticut congressional candidate.
Hyde suggested in the messages he had a connection inside the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine and access to people willing to take action against the ambassador. Hyde suggested he was following Yovanovitch’s movements and her electronic communication.
Pompeo also denied knowing Parnas, a key individual in the investigation surrounding Trump’s impeachment on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
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